JOHANN “JOHN” GRAEF age 88. Beloved husband of Elizabeth “Betty” (nee Bodnar). Dear brother of George Graef and Maria Ablinger of Austria. Cherished uncle and great uncle of many. Johann was born in Romania in 1934, in a community where his grandfather was the biggest landowner. The community is located in Transylvania, and Johann liked to joke that "Dracula was my uncle."
Throughout his childhood, Johann's grandfather played an influential role. He was raised in a farm family, and although he did not like the work his grandfather made him do, he felt it was a good experience in teaching him the value of hard work. Despite the work he had to do, Johann always said his family led a tranquil existence on the farm. He lived in a Lutheran Community where everyone went to church on Sunday.
The family's tranquil life was shattered in 1944 by WWII. Johann's father and uncle were in the German Army, and the family had to move by cattle car westerly into Europe, as Russian troops invaded Romania. He experienced numerous occasions of bombings, once being thrown by a German soldier as a bomb went off nearby. During this time the family was always on the move and eventually settled in Austria. After the war was tougher than it was during the war for Johann. Although there were rations during the war, at least his family knew what to expect. The post-war period was chaotic, full of uncertainty, and during this time he experienced a number of new hardships. For example, having to repeat a grade in high school due to the lack of school record, having "to prove" himself to get into high school. During this time, he participated in apprenticeships that later served him well as he began his career in engineering.
Johann emigrated to the United States and his first job here was working for Standard Products, a manufacturing company in Cleveland. When he was laid off from his job at Standard, he entered the Air Force in 1958, where he had four months' basic training in a critical skills group and remained for eight years, being honorably discharged in 1966. After leaving the Air Force, he ran a small tooling company, and later started his own tool and die company at the age of 28 years old. The company manufactured tooling for products used in a variety of applications, including jet engines, gas detection, and inkjet printing cartridges. During this time, Johann met his wife of 57 years, who is, without a doubt, the love of his life and who he says is "his best buddy." At age 32, he nearly became paralyzed from a slipped disk in his neck, but fortunately , the condition was successfully treated at The Cleveland Clinic.
The tool and die business allowed him to achieve great success and John held positions of prestige and responsibility. He was the Cleveland President of the National Tooling Association as well as Business Chairman for the National Tool and Die Association. In 1988 he sold the business to a Harvard MBA graduate and within 10 years the business became defunct. He said, “Just because you have a Harvard MBA, does not mean you can run a business."
In 1997 he suffered a stroke that left him partially paralyzed. He however did not let this set him back and he joined the “Strokers Golf Club”, where he made many new friends. Because of this he was now a permanent resident of Parkside Villas where he was known as the “Mayor of Parkside:”
He could be found roaming the halls in his wheelchair bringing humor and sage wisdom to many who were residents. He never let the pitfalls of life keep him down. He will truly be missed. The family requests no flowers and encourage contributions to your local food bank.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Saturday April 23, 2022, at St. John Bosco Catholic Church, 6480 Pearl Road in Parma Heights, at 10:00 AM. (EVERYONE PLEASE MEET AT HE CHURCH) Interment will follow at Holy Cross Cemetery. Arrangement are being provided by the A. RIPEPI AND SONS FUNERAL HOME, 18149 BAGLEY ROAD, MIDDLEBURG HEIGHTS, OH (West of I-71).
To send flowers to JOHANN's family, please visit our floral store.