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David Graeber

David Graeber David Graeber, architect, age 81, died peacefully at home on February 28, 2010. Survived by his wife of 39 years, Jean Graeber; two sons, Terry and Larry Graeber; daughter-in-law, Sharon Graeber; and granddaughter, Aiyin Graeber. David was born in Amarillo, Texas on September 14, 1928 the son of Hazel and Calvert Graeber. Preceded in death by his parents; sister, Charis McAllister; brothers, Keith McAllister and Peter Graeber; daughter, Jeeta Lynn Graeber; and stepdaughter, Kelly Donovan. Raised in San Antonio, Texas where he attended Brackenridge High School, a member of the Boy Scouts, a flying enthusiast working at Stinson Field and hauling lumber for his dad's lumber business, Graeber Lumber. At the age of 19, partnered with his dad to form a home building business, building what they called Ranchita homes. Married Jeeta Friend in 1949. In 1950 David enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin, built houses during the summer to pay tuition, and graduated with honors receiving a bachelor's degree in architecture in 1955, having already passed the State Board of Architectural Examiners test in 1954. Following school he joined the firm of Kuehne, Brooks and Barr, becoming a partner of the firm in 1961 when it was called Brooks, Barr, Graeber and White. Acknowledging numerous mentors who guided and influenced his participation in and leadership of many notable projects some of them being the University of Texas medical schools in Houston and San Antonio, research labs and dormitories for the University of Texas, the United States Embassy in Mexico City as architectural representative of the project, assistant to the project manager and director of architecture for the Johnson Spacecraft Center, Houston. His firm became consulting architects for the University of Texas system in 1962 and he was responsible for leading teams for the design of buildings on all UT campuses for a four year period, and in the spring of 1979 and 1980 did adjunct teaching for the Center of Middle Eastern Studies at UT, an experience he enjoyed very much. David also worked in association with other firms such as Skidmore, Owens and Merrill, building the LBJ Presidential Library and School of Public Affairs. Because of work done with Brown and Root on the Johnson Space Center he was often consulted for design solutions, one of which led to one of his favorite projects, crew quarters for British Petroleum at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, referring to it as the most intriguing project of his career. After much work in Saudi Arabia for 3-D International he formed the firm of Graeber, Simmons and Cowan in 1978 with one University of Texas job which evolved from a three-man firm into a 110 employee firm at his retirement. Graeber, Simmons and Cowan designed high-tech projects, helping to bring such companies as Sematech, Motorola, Advanced Micro Devices and Applied Materials to Austin. Not neglecting pro bono work that included the Paramount Theater, The Long Center, master plans for the site selection of the Austin Convention Center, among others. Socially responsible, David served on boards from the Texas Society of Architects, Children's Museum, the Real Estate Commission, The Old Pecan St. Association and acted as Chair of the Governor's Conference on Urban Affairs, 1969. In 1967, elevating his commitment to the city of Austin and the renewal of the inner-city, he bought an old building on run down east 6th Street, refurbishing it into a town home where he and his wife Jean lived until his death. This instigated the revitalization of 6th Street making it an integral part of downtown Austin where David planted the first tree on its sidewalk and initiated a program called, Street Trees for Austin which resulted in the planting of trees on major streets including Congress Avenue. In 1970 he married Jean Donovan and together they involved themselves in community service. David played hard. As a young man he belonged to a mountaineering club making many climbs. Later his interests evolved into racing automobiles and then sailing, crossing the Gulf of Mexico on two occasions and often sailed in the Caribbean, finally barging the canals of France. In retirement he found time for his love of books, spending months in England and hours in the Bodleian Library of Oxford reading and theorizing on pyramid construction and resource management, a time he referred to as "total freedom". When traveling became difficult he and Jean bought a condominium in San Antonio to be closer to their granddaughter and family, spending weeks and months at a time there. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the maintenance fund of The Chapel, designed by David Graeber, on the campus of the Austin State Supported Living Center, which when erected in 1961 was referred to as The Chapel for the Children, now The Chapel for the State Supported Living Center. Memorial donations can be made as a check to "Friends of Austin SSLC," 2203 W. 35th St. Bldg. 502, Austin, TX 78703. Please include the name of the person you wish to honor on the memo line. Donations are also accepted online at www.FriendsofAussLC.org . The family will be notified of your gift. Donations may also be given in David's name, to a charity of your choice. There will be a celebration of David's life at The Chapel for the State Supported Living Center, 2203 W. 35th St., Austin, TX, Sunday, March 7 at 2:00 p.m. You are invited to sign the guestbook at www.porterloring.com Arrangements with Porter Loring, 1101 McCullough Ave. (210) 227-8221.
Published in Austin American-Statesman on Mar. 4, 2010
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