MARY ANN (JOHNSTON) GRAF
1938 - 2014
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GRAF
MARY ANN (JOHNSTON)
Mary Ann Graf -- teacher, wife, mother, grandmother, volunteer and founder of the historic Priory Hotel -- passed away peacefully from complications of lung disease on January 8, 2014. Beloved wife of Edward L. Graf; loving mother of John E. (Suzanne) Graf of Ben Avon, Stephen L. (Andrea) Graf of Ben Avon, and Timothy J. (Karen) Graf of Alexandria, VA; Mary Ann was also the doting "Oma" to grandchildren, Laura, Will, Max, Charlie, Josh, Garrett, Ella Rose and Declan Graf. She was preceded in death by her sister, Arlene Spiegel; and her brother-in-law, John Spiegel, Esq.; as well as her parents, Earl and Margaret Johnston. Mary Ann was also sister-in-law to Gail Hodgins and to Denis (Carole) Graf; and aunt to many nieces and nephews. Born on June 7, 1938 and raised in Ingram, Mary Ann was graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1960. At Pitt, she was a sister of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority and was also the "Sweetheart of Phi Gamma Delta" fraternity, where she met future husband, Ed. She was the first kindergarten teacher at Avonworth School District and later served as a CCD instructor at Sacred Heart Church in Emsworth. Mary Ann and Ed lived in Ben Avon for over 30 years where her volunteer activities included Avon Club, the Ben Avon Fall Festival, and the "Music and Arts in ACORD" festival in Avonworth Park. She was a founding member of the Ben Avon Area Historical Association, and helped to save and restore the original Dickson Log Cabin, Ben Avon's oldest building. She served as Board President of the North Boroughs YMCA and was a willing and indispensable volunteer for anything that would benefit the community or its schools. In 1984 Mary Ann's life changed when her husband took her to see the vacant St. Mary's Church and Priory, two adjacent "National Register" landmark buildings in the Deutschtown section of the North Side which had been acquired by PennDOT for the construction of Interstate 279. Although saved from the wrecking ball by a change in the route of the highway, the structures would require significant restoration to be useable. Mary Ann and Ed agreed that she should attend the auction to acquire the property while Ed traveled overseas on a two week business trip. Upon Ed's return, Mary Ann met him at the airport and announced "Well, we own a church and a priory…what are we going to do with them??!!" With an eye toward turning the historic church structures into a hotel and ballroom, Mary Ann was thus exposed to the world of restoration construction, city and state politics, and entrepreneurship. As she and Ed explored the history of the church (built in 1854) and priory (built in 1888), Mary Ann met a number of the Benedictine Brothers of St. Vincent Archabbey, the priests whose order oversaw St. Mary's Parish, as well as many of the clerics whom had lived at the St. Mary's Priory over the years. Along the way, she also grew to know countless former congregants of the church, along with many neighborhood preservationists. Ed and Mary Ann also learned that the German-speaking early church members included Ed's grandfather Eugene, who had emigrated from Switzerland in 1883. She worked with three Pittsburgh mayors in the process of redeveloping the St. Mary's Church and Priory– Richard Caliguiri, Sophie Masloff, and Tom Murphy. The 25 room Priory Hotel opened in late 1986, and immediately received industry accolades as Pittsburgh's first and only European-style boutique hotel. The Priory Hotel was later expanded in 2011 to 42 rooms. In 1995, Mary Ann and her family unveiled the restoration of the church into Pittsburgh's Grand Hall at the Priory, which wins plaudits to this day as one of the city's premier event destinations. Not content, Mary Ann and Ed restored a historic storefront on East Ohio Street in Deutschtown, transforming it into the neighborhood anchor bakery Priory Fine Pastries. During her time as a North Side businesswoman, Mary Ann was active in many neighborhood and industry organizations, including serving as one of the first female board members of Visit Pittsburgh as well as the board of the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation. In 1999, Mary Ann and Ed completed their commitment to Deutschtown by restoring and moving into the historic "Frater House," built in 1888, which had been a home to the Marianist Brothers who later taught at North Catholic High School. In June 2013, Mary Ann was recognized by the North Side Leadership Conference as one of the 30 most influential people in the last 30 years of development on the North Side. Known for her generosity and giving spirit, Mary Ann will be sorely missed by her family, friends, employees and the community. Friends will be received at MCDONALD - LINN FUNERAL HOME, 529 California Avenue, Avalon, on Friday, January 10, 2014 from 2:00 p.m.– 4:00 p.m., and 6:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m. A Funeral Mass will be held at Sacred Heart Church, 154 Orchard Avenue, Emsworth, on Saturday, January 11, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. Memorial donations, in lieu of flowers, are suggested to either the Ben Avon Area Historical Association, 136 Dickson Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15202, or Brothers Brother Foundation, 1200 Galveston Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.
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Published in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Jan. 9 to Jan. 10, 2014.
MEMORIAL EVENTS
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Memories & Condolences
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46 entries
February 6, 2014
I have so many fond memories of Mrs. Graf at the lake. I will miss our summer chats and updates. To the whole Graf family I am sending my condolences!
Cathie Otto Maidl
January 21, 2014
John and family. I was so sad to hear about your Mom's passing. Although decades have gone by, I will always fondly remember spending a signficaint part of my childhood being warmly welcomed into her home where she treated us all as her own kids. My thoughts are with you all.
Lynn Trondle
January 15, 2014
Mary Ann will be missed by all who knew her and all who don't , but benefited from her tireless efforts. Sorry I could not make it in from Chambersburg due to my patient care schedule here at Dental Solutions of Chambersburg, but I was there in spirit and well represented by the rest of the Weiss family. My condolences, Eric C. Weiss, DMD
Eric Weiss
January 14, 2014
I just found out and am so sorry to hear of Mary Ann's passing. She was a beautiful woman who I'll NEVER forget letting us use the family's condo at Sturgeon (sp). She was a kind-hearted person and was ALWAYS a pleasure to talk to. She will be remembered by all in many ways.
Donna Schwartzbauer
January 13, 2014
Ed and Family -- Our deepest sympathies on the loss of Mary Ann. We have many good memories of our times in Ben Avon.
Mary Ann was always a thoughtful and caring person.
Shirley and Kirk Vogeley
Kirk Vogeley
January 13, 2014
So sorry to hear of Mary Ann's passing. Always enjoyed being with her on family gatherings. She will surely be missed.
Barbara Paul
January 13, 2014
To Ed & Family: So sorry to hear of your loss. It was indeed an honor and our pleasure to have known Mary Ann these many years.
Eric & Fran Ollila
January 13, 2014
Dear Ed and John,
I was sad to learn about Mary Ann's death. She made so many contributions to the Northside and I enjoyed knowing her as a person. All my sympathies to you and your families.
Martha Helmreich
January 11, 2014
Dear Ed and Family,
We offer our prayers and sympathy to you and your family.
May God's Peace and Blessings be with Mary Ann and her family always.

O'B and Rosie
Rich and Rosemary O'Brien
January 11, 2014
John,
Please accept my sympathy for your loss. Your Mom's accomplishments were fantastic.
Sincerely,
Harry Soose
Harry Soose
January 11, 2014
Ed,
Ed and John,
Please accept my sympathy for your loss. Mary Ann was a wonderful person and will be missed.
Sincerely,
Harry Soose
Harry Soose
January 11, 2014
My thoughts are with the Graf Family at this sad time. I have happy memories.
Anne Hartigan
January 11, 2014
Dear Ed and family, So sorry to hear of the passing of your wife Mary Ann. My deepest sympathy.
Lynne Smith Gawlas Class of 1956
January 11, 2014
With deepest sympathy--Bette Beisel and Peter Calaboyias
January 10, 2014
To the entire Graf family, So sorry to hear this sad news.She was wonderfully kind to me when I was a kid.I know she will be missed.
Scott Harris and Family
January 10, 2014
one of my favorite parents/loved talking to her about the boys in her life/thoughts, prayers and good memories

Sandra long, ft. myers, florida
January 10, 2014
We miss her already. Never to be replaced. We only hope to carry on and learn from her fine example of commitment to her family and her neighborhood.
Rob and Olga Noll
Rob and Olga Noll
January 10, 2014
my thought and prayers are with you
Gina Spinale
January 10, 2014
Ed, Sons, and Family:
Please accept my condolence at the passing of this impressive woman.
Paul J. McArdle
January 10, 2014
I had the pleasure of working for Mrs. Graf (at the Priory) in the mid-90s. She went out of her way to go above and beyond for her employees and was truly one of the sweetest, kindest people I've ever met. It was a joy to work for her and I am honored to have known her. My heartfelt sympathy to the Graf family for the loss of this amazing woman. May Mary Ann's kind, loving spirit live on in your memories and bring you peace and comfort.
Tracy Leicher
January 10, 2014
When your mother was best friends with your kindergarten teacher, you couldn't get away with Anything! So sorry to hear this.
Tad Emery
January 10, 2014
Ed and family, So sorry for your loss. Mary Ann was such a great lady who will be missed by many.Our sympathy and prayers.
Kim,Dennis and Ron Buyna
Kim Buyna
January 10, 2014
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
Jim Ellenbogen
January 9, 2014
Ed: So sorry to learn of Mary Ann's passing. Her loss robs the north Side of some of its wattage. We're traveling and will be unable to pay our respects in person. But know that we extend our sympathy to you and all the family.

Bill and Eileen Stewart
Bill Stewart
January 9, 2014
John and family, So sorry to hear of Mary Ann's passing. My deepest condolences and sympathy to all. I'm sure she will be missed.
Trudy Cammarata
January 9, 2014
A truly great lady, she was an inspiration to more people than she realized. I am very sorry for your loss, I hope your family continues to discover the gifts she left behind in the many people that she encouraged.
Patrick Sheldon
January 9, 2014
Maryann was such a wonderful, inspiring woman. Our Family was honored to know her and the wonderful family at their Lake house. She was our kids Oma as well. Always making sure to sit and talk with each one them as individuals making each of them feel loved just like her own grandchildren. She was a Great Listener and Talker. Always with a word of advice to make you see a situation in a different light. Both our Families consisted of three boys. She was my mentor and friend that taught me many things about unconditional love and acceptance. We will all miss you very much. Friend, mentor, Oma and all around Great Person.
Becky and Bob Beam and family
January 9, 2014
Dear John and family, I'm so very sorry to hear about the loss of your mother. I have shared the same experience and I know that it's very hard. I will remember her in my prayers and you have my deepest sympathy. Jonetta Mazur
Jonetta Mazur
January 9, 2014
John and family, I was so sorry to learn of Mary Ann's passing. She was a warm and lovely lady and I admired her so much as one of Pittsburgh's most iconic hospitality leaders. May your memories of happy times provide comfort to you at this time.
Lynne Popash
January 9, 2014
My sympathy to everyone in the family. Mary Ann was so kind, caring, and funny.Always made me feel special and like she new me forever. I will miss her stories and her hello hugs.
Linda Leonhardt
January 9, 2014
Your Mom was very special and I will always remember what a nice person she was to a new hospitality teacher at Robert Morris. She was kind and I was glad I was able to touch base with her occasionally while in the hospitality industry in Pittsburgh. Will miss her very much.
Bruce Larson
January 9, 2014
Dear John and Family, I am sorry for the loss of your dear Mary Ann. She was always a pleasure to speak with and was always kind in her words in speaking with you, even afer we had not seen each other for many years. My condolences and hope that there is a lot of restoration in heaven to keep her busy. Colleen Juran
January 9, 2014
Ed, John and Graf family, I am so sorry to hear about Mary Ann! She was always so warm and funny. When I first moved to Deutschtown I was told I should contact her about a job at the Priory and she was so helpful and welcoming.
Cynthia Shea
January 9, 2014
john so very sorry to hear about your mother. lost my mother about 2 years ago and no matter how long they live it is never enough and they will be missed every day of the rest of our lives. deepest sympathy and my she rest in peace. bill walsh 32
January 9, 2014
Ed, John , Steve and Tim, Mary Ann was one of my favorite people. I am praying for you and your families. Your cousin, Joyce Duffy
January 9, 2014
Mary Ann was like a second mom to me growing up in Ben Avon. Always felt welcome in her home and around her table. Sorry to hear of her loss. Praying for all the family.
John Volinsky
January 9, 2014
Please accept our sincere condolences in the passing of Mary Ann. May God hold her in the palm of His hand.

Patrick and Margie McCann
Scott Twp.
January 9, 2014
Dear Ed and Family: so sorry to hear about Mary Ann. Martha was in Mary Ann's first kindergarten class. I recall many stops at your home on Church after basketball. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family.
Paul & Martha Nussbaum
January 9, 2014
Ed and family. I am deeply saddened by the loss of Mary Ann. Please accept my condolences and remember she will live forever in your memories.

Tim Duffy
January 9, 2014
Ed and Family: We are sorry to hear about Mary Ann. Our deepest sympathy to your family.

Harry P. Balzert and Evie Viehbeck, Naples, FLorida
January 9, 2014
Dear John, Suzanne, and kids-- We're so very sorry to hear about your mom. Our prayers are with you during this difficult time. Karen Lewis, Richard Giesey and Greg Lewis
January 9, 2014
Our biggest KS Kennedy Floral fan will now be in heaven smiling down on us all..Some of our most treasured memories will be of the magical times in our shop with Mary Ann..and her dedication to helping us thrive!! She will be missed more than words can convey.. Our love and support to the entire family.
KS Kennedy
January 9, 2014
Bev and I always loved Mary Ann. One of the most down to earth people we have ever known. A funny, caring about all things and compassionate woman. What a perfect parter she was for Ed. Both of us will miss her.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Graf family.
Mike Kaczmarski
January 9, 2014
Ed & Family,
You have our deepest sympathies with Mary Ann's passing. Some of our fondest memories are the Christmas Parties John Kirkwood threw at the Priory and meeting you at the German Club.
Rich & Kathi Shotwell
January 9, 2014
Dear Ed
We are so sorry to hear about Mary Ann. You have our deepest sympathy. We send our love and prayers to you and your family. Dave and Marlene Wohleber
Marlene Wohleber
January 9, 2014
To the Graf Family,
Our deepest sympathy on the loss of Mary Ann. We will keep her and all of the Graf Family in our prayers.
Paul & Hope Quolke
Paul Quolke
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