Dr. Joseph Michael Gratto
Dr. Joseph Michael Gratto passed away peacefully at home surrounded by family on April 8, 2021 at age 84.
Born on July 20, 1936 to Anna and Clarence Gratto in Canton, NY, Joe graduated from Lehigh University with honors, received an MS from Pepperdine University and Salve Regina University before earning a PhD from Emory University. Following college, he was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow studying at the University of North Carolina.
Joe was an honor student at Canton High School and three-sport athlete who won four annual league wrestling championships. He was a member, with brother, Charlie, in the inaugural class of the Canton High School Athletic Hall of Fame. In wrestling, he rose to world-class level, earning two Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association championships and an NCAA and
AAU championship at Lehigh. He was an All Marine Corps Champion, and a U.S. Olympic alternate in wrestling. He was chosen for the Lehigh University Athletic Hall of Fame. He delivered part of his induction speech in Latin. Additionally, he was inducted into the EIWA Hall of Fame.
He was a high school and college honor student. At Lehigh, he was a co-winner of an annual two-man debate competition, a member of Cyanide, a Junior Class Honorary, President of Arcadia, the student governing organization and President of the chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa, the National Leadership Fraternity, as well as a brother in the Phi Gamma Delta
fraternity. He was named the outstanding Senior of his graduating class and received the prestigious Bosey Reiter award for that year.
As a Marine, Joe fought in Vietnam prior to his retirement as a Lieutenant Colonel. During his service, he was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor, Navy Achievement Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citations (awarded 3 times), Navy Unit Commendation, Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary
Medal, Vietnam Service Medal (4 deployments), Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Bronze Star, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.
Following his military career, Joe embarked on a second career in academia. Dr. Gratto served as Dean at the DeVry Institute of Technology in Atlanta, and President of Potomac State College of West Virginia University. As President Emeritus, he continued to teach part-time, served on the Board of Trustees of Davis and Elkins College, and was an active member of the Keyser Rotary Club where he once served as president. Joe was on the Dress Up the City of Keyser downtown beautification committee. He was also the recipient of the Distinguished West Virginian Award and a member of Mensa.
As the father of two girls, Joe had a special interest in women's issues. He was instrumental in founding the Women's Crisis Center in Keyser, where he also volunteered. He also served on the Rotary Club committee which founded the Katharine Church Scholarship, awarded every year to a deserving Keyser High School female student.
Gifted with a beautiful singing voice, Joe sang in the choir of every congregation to which he belonged. He played the harmonica, accordion, and dulcimer. His passion, however, was gardening, which he pursued with great enthusiasm and skill. Nothing made him happier than to bring flowers to his wife Barbara to arrange.
Joseph is preceded in death by his parents and his brothers Charles Gratto and Rev. Stephen Gratto. He is survived by his beloved wife of 59 years, Barbara Gratto; daughters, Katherine Gratto Revell and grandson Eric Revell; daughter Susan Marie Hamilton and her husband Ray Hamilton; granddaughter Jennifer Tettenburn, her husband David Tettenburn, and great granddaughter Nora Tettenburn; granddaughter Kacy Kyle, her husband Robert Kyle, and great granddaughter Baby Girl Kyle on the way; and granddaughter Lainey Harrison. He is also survived by his brother Peter Gratto and his wife Sharon Gratto; and brother Clarence
Gratto, and his wife Colleen Livingston Gratto; and his sister Joan Gratto Liebler, as well as four nieces, and three nephews some of whom fondly called him "Uncle Daddy."
Two socially distanced viewings (masks required) will be held at Smith Funeral Home, 85 South Main Street, Keyser, WV, on
Thursday April 15, 2021 from 2-4 & 6-8 p.m.
A private service will be held for immediate family and close friends at Assumption Catholic Church, Keyser, WV, on
April 16, 2021.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Joseph Gratto Wrestling Scholarship at Keyser High School, 328 One Tornado Way, Keyser WV 26726 or to WVU Medicine Hospice at Potomac Valley Hospital, 100 Pin Oak Lane, Keyser, WV 26726. Condolences and personal reflections to the family may be left after Dr. Gratto's obituary at www.smithfuneralhomes.net
"Blessed is he who plants trees under whose shade he will never sit."
– Cicero, after Caecilius Statius.