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Las Cruces, NM 88001-3001
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Sam Graft

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Sam Graft Obituary
On April 29, 2014 Sam Graft passed from his physical life on earth after a long battle with Parkinson 's disease and Alzheimer's Disease. He was 79. Sam was born Lynwood Dale Graft in Portland, Michigan on October 16, 1934 to Glen and Esther Caverly Graft, but was soon nicknamed Sam by a cousin. It stuck so well that only a very few new his legal name. From an early age Sam was an athlete. He played all sports, but excelled in football and baseball which he played at Portland High School. He earned a scholarship to Colby College in Maine. After one year at Colby he enlisted in the United States Army and served honorably during the Korean War, spending much of his tour at Ft. Bliss, Texas. While there he met Eva Alonso Mendosa and they were married in 1956. Sam earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana and his Masters of Arts at the University of Illinois at Champaign – Urbana. His career in Recreation Administration took the family to many locations including Alamogordo where Sam was the Youth Activities Director at Holloman Air Force Base. In 1968 he came to Las Cruces as the Parks and Recreation Director. His first project was to develop a park over what was then the retiring landfill. City Council directed him to just cover it up and plant some trees and grass. Sam felt the land had more potential and with the help of the Parks Board chaired by Dr. Ray Paz, convinced council to hire a landscape architect to design a park that could be developed in stages as funds permitted. They agreed. Young Park has been an asset and joy to the community for many years. Sam was also very proud of working with Alice Cox to get softball facilities for the girls in Las Cruces. Again he was challenged by the council's desire to scatter some fields around town. Instead, Sam wanted a complex that could be used for regional, state and national tournaments and bring revenue into Las Cruces. The result was Maag Park. The area has developed into a hub for recreation and sports activities through the years. Sam's vision has been his legacy to Las Cruces. In 1975, Governor Jerry Apodaca appointed Sam to his Cabinet as State Parks and Recreation Director. At the end of Gov. Apodaca's term Sam returned to Las Cruces as Director of Community Facilities. His personal goal was to run the Boston Marathon which he did in April of 1985 at the age of 50. He was active in many organizations over the years including Breakfast Optimists. He spent several years on the board of TRESCO, two of which he served as president. He chaired the Whole Enchilada Fiesta in 1983 and was a very active city liaison for the Chamber of Commerce. Sam married Sid Lamkin on the last day of 1986. He had 5 grown children and she had 3 partially grown children so they decided they would just raise dogs. He retired in 1988 to pursue other activities-mostly golf. On his 60th birthday, Sam received the Sacrament of Communion for the first time. His wife, Sid and best friend, Glen Burgess were at his side. In 1998 Sam was diagnosed with Parkinson's. It didn't slow him down much until dementia developed. We took each challenge as it came and made adjustments as necessary. In 2002 the Sonoma Ranch Partners; David & Vivian Steinborn, George & Yvonne Rawson and Dale & Diane Schueller, took Joni Gutierrez' suggestion and named and dedicated a park in Sam's honor. It was one of the highlights of his life. We would like to thank some very special people who made things easier for both of us during Sam's illness. His wonderful doctors, Mario Aguilar, Gabriel Hernandez and staff, Ramon Marquez, Mark Bieri; Caregivers, Gentiva Home Health, Mesilla Valley Hospice, and The Heritage Assisted Living Adult Day Care where he received amazing and loving care while Sid worked; The Geezer Golfers who kept him on the course until it was unsafe to do so and Dan Kuesters at the NMSU Golf Course; wonderful friends, Pat Montoya for making our home lovely and accessible from the ground up, and Ted Novak for coming to visit wherever Sam was right up until the end . Sam is survived by his wife of 27 years, Sid; his children, Cindy Volkmer of Phoenix, Arizona, Linda Miller (Keith) of Las Cruces, Mindy Graft of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Wendy Graft Carpenter (Rick) of Rio Rancho, New Mexico, and Lyn Graft of Austin, Texas; 11 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren; his stepchildren, Denise Lamkin, Kathryn Woodward (Matt) of Las Cruces, Jeannette Frietze (Mark) of Mesilla; 5 step grandchildren and our beagle, Fancy. He is also survived by his sister, June McAllister, brother, Carl Graft and many nieces, nephews and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents; brothers, Roy Gaft, Cecil Lyon, and Asil Lyon; sister, Laurel Massey who will greet him in Heaven. Also there to greet Sam will be Amber, Corky, Oakley, Zoe, Sophia, and Bogey, and foster dogs, Helen, Yogi and Hanna. Tails will be wagging everywhere! And when he gets there, Sam will be able to remember all their names. Flowers are for the living. Instead, please do something nice for someone you love. Or perhaps adopt a pet who will love you unconditionally."Death leaves a heartache no one can heal. Love leaves a memory no one can steal." Irish Epitaph. Cremation has taken place and services will be at 2 pm, May 20, 2014 at Getz Funeral Home corner of E. Bowman and Solano. 575-526-2419. Arrangements lovingly provided by Getz Funeral Home. Please log on to
Published in Las Cruces Sun-News on May 9, 2014
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