David Graeber
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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.

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Published in Austin American-Statesman on Mar. 4, 2010.
Memories & Condolences
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25 entries
August 28, 2018
I did not know David had passed away until I looked him up today. I was the primary carpenter and foreman who built his glass rooved addition in 1983. I was 26 then. I worked closely with him on this for about 9 months. Most mornings, we would have a ten minute pow-wow where he would explain what he wanted, and we'd talk about the best way to achieve the crazy framing results that were needed. He taught me how to face building challenges, how to be a courageous framer, and later on, woodworker, and he has always been an inspiration for me ever since that job came to an end in 1983.We would get together every now and then and talk about my career and "life stuff". Now retired, I was looking him up to express my gratitude for what smarts he gave me way back then. I should never have waited this long. Thanks David!
Alan Alhades
May 13, 2011
I was a young carpenter of 23 building a bar at the corner of 6th and Trinity (formerly Wiley's) in 1978 when David walked in and asked if anyone would would be interested in remodeling his house a couple of doors down. I had no idea anyone actually lived on 6th street at the time. I got my first contracting job from David and now, after 33 years, four kids and two grandkids, I am going back to school and working on a degree in architecture. I remember David as having a unique ability to pull out the best in people, no matter what their background.
Greg Kahn
December 14, 2010
David was my father 's cousin . I came to know him as an adult when I lived in Austin for a time. David was a wonderful human being. He and Jean lived an exceptional life and yet were humble and welcoming to us. I adored them and miss him immensely.
Suzanne Rogers
April 3, 2010

I know this is a loss for you. David lived a very full life and a life with passion.
Dick Schott
March 26, 2010
Being born a Californian, David was everything that I had envisioned a "Big Texan" would be. I think that sums up what David will always be to me.
Michael Uyeda
March 16, 2010
Twenty five years ago as an intern architect, I was fortunate enough to work for, and with, a man who has proved to possess charisma, intellect, and values for his family, company, and city that I've not since encountered. I am certain that David was too humble to accept that he'd had such a profound impact on so many in his life. I am blessed to have known and learned from our friend whose indelible sense of humor, and joy of our shared profession, will long remain in our memories.
David Wheeler
March 15, 2010
David was a giant of a man, tremendous intellect a superb story teller and a great ambassador for the State of Texas. His passion for its history and its people inspired us and started us on a lifetime journey which we will now continue with renewed vigour.
Colin and Pamela Prescott Faversham England
colin and pamela prescott
March 8, 2010
David was a delight to work with for a young Architect. Always had a great story to share and always up-beat. I will remember him fondly. The last thing I got from him was his treatise on Teachers which he sent several years ago and which I so appreciated.

But the thing I will never forget about David is the story of the house he built on the wrong lot and how it all turned out OK! What a David story.

Frank Douglas
Frank Douglas
March 8, 2010
Much has been said about David’s legendary storytelling prowess. But it wasn’t his affection for the past which I remember as much as his passionate embrace of the future, for new ideas, and his insatiable intellectual curiosity.

The small footprint David says he left behind is, for me, one of a long trail of footprints he left leading over the horizon to who knows where, one I could follow without ever reaching the end.

I owe him more than I can say. He was the real thing. Thanks David.
Chris Macon
March 8, 2010
A terrific man, half of a wonderful couple, who have quietly thrived at the epicenter of the East Sixth Historic & Entertainment District while the Live Music Capital of the World swirled around them. From your neighbors: Salut!, David, and great thanks for all that you have given to our community and the "footprints" you have left behind for generations to enjoy.
Fred Schmidt
March 6, 2010
Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this difficult time. David was a wonderful man. We are so sorry for your loss.
Stevan and Jan Koprivnik
March 5, 2010
David influenced architecture, but most importantly he influenced architects; to strive for excellence, to think outside the box, and to share the knowledge. Tough to keep up with but always willing to share his advice.
Luis Rodriguez
March 5, 2010
Jean and Family, David was my first boss.1968 I can still remember the Saturday he hired me...he asked me when I could start and I told him right away..he asked me where I had parked and told me to move my car up into the garage and I worked 48 hrs. straight on a model for Rebecca Baines Johnson retirement center (whew I couldn't do it now). Linda (my wife) and I talked about ya'lls wedding and the courting that preceded the event,what a great time.I especially remember the trips to sixth street at lunch when David would write on the back of a piece of sheetrock or on a 2x4 what he wanted the carpenters to do on the townhouse. I owe you both a huge amount of thanks for helping me start my architectural career in the right direction (1968-1974). David was a great designer and a fun guy to work for. I know he'll still be designing or sailing,pursuing his passions.
Our thoughts are with you all.
Love Gus and Linda Voelzel III
Gus Voelzel
March 5, 2010
David was a good friend and colleague to my late father, B. Segall...and later to me. Dad created the mechanical/electrical engineering for David's innovative designs on many projects, including the U.S. Embassy.
Years after, i was able to serve David and his team as a consultant and facilitator. I always admired his leadership style, sense of humor, perhaps most of all his passion for great work. He will be missed. God Bless.
Lindy Segall
March 5, 2010
The passing of this fine person leaves me with great loss and a fond respect for an important architect and leader. His vision contributed to my life in a significant way when we enjoyed some hard and worthwhile work together, now some 30 years ago. I still tell the story of missing our plane because we were lavishing in a group discussion that could be described as unimportant - this fellow saw the joy in people and wanted to know them. Bless the family and the many professionals he shared with - and the communities he contributed to. Kind sir - you are missed and remembered with the highest esteem.
Chester Slimp
March 5, 2010
Austin has lost a true visionary...
March 4, 2010
I had the pleasure of working under David at Brooks, Barr, Graeber & White as my first job out of UT. He was an inspirational mentor who made a great impact on my career. He was also a fellow sailor who loved to take us out for evening sails, which were always memorable. One of my favorite of David's sayings was, "Don't fall off the edge." David lived his life that way...always on the edge, but never falling off.
Bronson Dorsey
March 4, 2010
I remember working hard on the Embassy project at a desk next to David. When we had the drawings near completion he took them to the structural engineer in Mexico City and had all our notes translated into spanish. When he returned we had to letter all the translations onto the drawings. We had to squeeze them in, for we seldom had left enough room. Love and prayers to Jean and all. Lee Talley, Killeen, Tx.
March 4, 2010
I remember working hard on the Embassy project at a desk next to David. When we had the drawings near completion he took them to the structural engineer in Mexico City and had all our notes translated into spanish. When he returned we had to letter all the translations onto the drawings. We had to squeeze them in, for we seldom had left enough room. Love and prayers to Jean and the family.
Marshall Lee Talley
March 4, 2010
I did not know David Graeber and am sorry to read about your lose. I went to elementary school with a Peter Graeber whose father had a lumber yard on Nogalitos. I saw Peter a few years before he passed away. I was very impressed with the winding stairs that were installed where the offices were loacated. I have a class picture of Peter when we graduated for Briscoe Elementary in Jan. 1946. Were they related?
March 4, 2010
David was an inspiration to us who work to improve downtown Austin.
Michael Knox
March 4, 2010
In the early years of planning what was to become the Long Center, we would meet in his conference room. Graeber would start the group with a quip and dash of wisdom, then let us struggle with our planning and return to give us some good cheer as we went to our next challange in the project. He encouraged us to see what was not there - yet. He was a wonderful community mentor and will be missed.
Karin Richmond
March 4, 2010
Now you can be with Jeeta Lynn.

You were a good man and a great competitor. The SCCA will miss you.
Russell Fish
March 4, 2010
A wonderful mentor.
John Hodges
March 3, 2010
David will be missed by one and all and especially me.His sense of humor was refreshing and nurturing...all at the same time.He was a great man and truly fine friend.
pike powers
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