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John Fisher Gratz Jr.


1931 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
John Fisher Gratz Jr. Obituary
John Fisher Gratz, Jr.

Memphis, TN

John Fisher Gratz, Jr., 85, passed away of a heart attack at his home in St. Helena, California on May 20, 2017. He was born July 26, 1931 in Memphis to Lucy Chapman Gratz and John Fisher Gratz, Sr.

John grew up in Memphis and attended the Snowden School and Central High School. It was in these early years that John began his long career in music, studying piano with Mrs. W.P. Gorman, and in 1948 winning a national contest as one of the ten best pianists in that year's graduating high school class. After high school, John also performed many singing roles in the Memphis Open Air Theater.

John attended Rhodes College for two years and there joined Sigma Alpha Epsilon. He finished his college education at Yale University, graduating in 1952. At Yale, John studied music composition under the tutelage of such notable composers as Aaron Copeland and Paul Hindemith. He was a member of the Yale Glee Club. John continued his musical studies at the University of California at Berkeley. At that time, John shifted his focus to medicine and graduated from the University of Tennessee Medical School in 1958. He practiced radiology for over forty years, driving daily to small local hospitals outside Memphis.

John married Sarah Polk Burch in 1956 and together they raised four children. After their divorce, John married Cynthia Ray in 1984, and the couple raised two children. John retired from medicine in 2005 and shortly thereafter moved to Napa Valley. He spent his retirement years in California with Janice Hunt Andrain where he continued to pursue his lifelong hobby of landscaping.

During his life, John was most proud of his family and his musical accomplishments. He played the piano and wrote music throughout his lifetime. He sold one of his songs to Frank Sinatra, and another was premiered at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. He wrote a song for each of his children.

John is survived by his children, Sarah Gratz Land, Lucy Gratz Weymouth, John Fisher Gratz III, William Kempshall Gratz, and Lydia Gratz Cooper, as well as four grandchildren. He is predeceased by one child, Ashley Cooper Gratz.

A Memorial Service is scheduled for 1:30 on Saturday, June 3, in the Lords Chapel at Elmwood Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations be made to The LAM Foundation of Cincinnati, Ohio or the charitable organization of your choice.
Published in The Commercial Appeal on May 25, 2017
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