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John Graff

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John Graff Obituary
John Theodore Graff, a beloved father, grandfather, veteran, and community member, died Monday, March 10 in Boulder at the Frasier Meadows Health Care Center. He was 93. John lived in Boulder for 48 years beginning in 1965 and had close ties to the community. He was a life-long member of Rotary Club International (attending both the 50th and 100th anniversary conventions in Chicago), and was a notable member of the Boulder Valley Rotary Club. He participated in many of the Club's fundraising activities and was particularly active in their annual coat drive, gathering and distributing coats across Boulder County. He also had close ties to and a love of Washington Country, Missouri, the ancestral home of his wife, Mildred ("Cressy") Cresswell Graff. Following his retirement in 1985, they traveled to the Cresswell family home in Aptus, Missouri each spring and fall. John developed a long-lasting relationship with many residents of the area and a deep love and appreciation for its beauty and peacefulness. John assisted Cressy in restoring much of the farm and surrounding properties. Following Cressy's death on February 14, 1998, he continued to travel to Aptus two or three times each year and continued their efforts to support local community projects, including a Cresswell family reunion in 1999. A firm believer in education, he established the Cresswell-Graff scholarship endowment, which is awarded annually to Washington County high school students who demonstrate good citizenship and scholarship. John lived in Berkeley, California for many of his younger years and was b lessed with a brilliant mind for mathematics and problem solving. Like his father and grandfather, he studied civil engineering and graduated in 1943 from the University of California, Berkeley with honors and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Following graduation, he joined the US Navy Reserve and was sent to Bremerton Washington Naval Shipyard to assist in the commissioning of the USS Bismarck Sea, a small aircraft carrier, and to serve as the arresting gear officer. After sea trials, the ship was ordered to the South Pacific to join the war effort. Arriving off the coast of Iwo Jima in February 1945, the Bismarck Sea provided air support for the invasion and the fleet. On February 22, two kamikaze planes attacked the ship at dusk, setting fire to the hanger deck, which was filled with planes, fuel, and bombs. The explosions and inferno that followed resulted in orders to abandon ship. The ship quickly sank, and nearly half of the 800 member crew were lost at sea or died in the explosions. John survived, floating in the water for several hours, where he faced wind-driven waves, occasional sharks, and strafing runs by enemy planes. He assisted an injured sailor until they were picked up by a destroyer. Following his marriage to Cressy in Philadelphia on March 1, 1946 and subsequent discharge from active duty, John began his 41 year career with Standard Oil of California., now Chevron, in San Francisco. As a valued employee, he was transferred frequently during his first 20 years with the company, but the family decided that Colorado should be their permanent home for the remainder of his life. John and his family enjoyed the Colorado mountains, hiking, skiing, and the wildlife of Rocky Mountain National Park and spent many falls in the Park watching and listening to the elk herds. Remembered for his sharp wit, keen mind, compassion, and generosity for those around him, John was laid to rest with military honors in Soule's Chapel Cemetery, Ebo, Missouri, next to his wife, Cressy. In addition to his wife, John was preceded in death by his father and mother, Bjarne H. Graff and Lillian B. Graff; his sisters, Mary E. Graff and Minda S. Graff; and his youngest son, William B. Graff. He is survived by sons, John C. Graff and George T. Graff and their spouses, Christine R. Graff and Marti A. Graff, respectively, as well as Lori Kragor Graff, the widow of William. Surviving members also include 10 grandchildren and six great grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully requests contributions to a , the Salvation Army, or the YMCA Camp Lakewood - Potosi Partnership in Washington County, Missouri.

Published in The Daily Camera from Mar. 26 to Mar. 29, 2014
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