Eugene “Gene” R. Graf, age 89, of Merrill, passed away on Tuesday, October 31, 2017 at his home. Gene was born on August 22, 1928 to the late Alexander and Lillian (Arder) Graf in Chicago, IL. In 1941, he and his family came to Gleason, WI and settled on a farm. Gene attended and graduated from Merrill High School with the class of 1946. After school, he worked at Hachbarth’s grocery store and Ratzburg’s locker plant. After that, he worked for the Lincoln County Highway Dept. In 1951, he was drafted into the Army during the Korean War. Gene had his basic training in Fort Lee, Virginia, then went overseas to Korea, where he was for 19 months with the Quarter Master Corp. He was awarded the Korean War Service Medal and the United Nations Medal. Gene then married Elvina Kanapka on May 15, 1954, and the two raised 5 children together, Gary, Bruce, Sandy, Sue and Todd. Elvina passed away on June 24, 1984. In 1971, Gene decided to start his own business, which was called Gene’s Refrigeration and Appliance. He continued to work in the field of refrigeration for the next 21 years. Gene met and fell in love with Leona M. Voigt, and the two exchanged vows on May 24, 1986 in Merrill, a union lasting 31 years. She survives. Gene and his wife, Leona traveled to many places within the United States, and even made a few trips to Germany. Gene had a passion for music and had his own band called the Music Men where he played the piano accordion. Gene was a past president of the German Club, past trustee at the Luther Memorial Church in Gleason, past elder for Trinity Lutheran Church and a county assessor for the town of Russell. Gene was also a member of the local Merrill VFW Post #1638, and was their bugler at one time for funerals. He is remembered as being a strong man with a wide variety of talents and skills. Gene enjoyed oil painting and rose-malling . He truly had a gift for working with wood, whether he was carving clocks, furniture or gun cabinets for family and friends, or just making something for around the house. Everyone loved to hear the story’s that Gene would tell, he was such a jokester! Gene is survived by his wife: Leona M. Graf of Merrill, sons: Gary Graf of Rothschild, WI and Bruce Graf of Stanford, CT, daughters: Susan (Matthew) Holt of Kronenwetter and Sandra (David) Laehn of Merrill, son: Todd (Ann) Graf of Plymouth, WI, step-daughter: Judy Kleinschmidt and step-son: Jack (Cindy) Baguhn, both of Merrill, 7 grandchildren: Alex (Ashley) Graf, Kasie Holt, Brittany Graf, Samantha Graf, Brady Holt, Jennifer Graf and Adam Laehn, 5 step grandchildren: Kristopher Baguhn, Greg Kleinschmidt, Jason (Tanya) Kleinschmidt, Brandon (Beckie) Kleinschmidt and Sarah Mohr, 3 great grandchildren: Madison, Daxton and Sabastian and 6 step great grandchildren: Madison, Owen, Carson, Matthew, Michael, Amber, and Cody, Allison, and Jeza Kleinschmidt. He was preceded in death by his parents: Alexander and Lillian Graf and his previous wife: Elvina Kanapka.
Funeral Services for Gene will be held on Saturday, November 4, 2017 at 11am at Trinity Lutheran Church in Merrill. Pastor Kenneth Albers will officiate. Visitation will be held on Saturday, November 4, 2017 from 9am until the time of the service, also at the church. Burial will immediately follow in the Luther Memorial Cemetery in Gleason. Military honors will be performed by the Merrill VFW Post #1638.
Waid Funeral Home & Cremation Service of Merrill is assisting the family with arrangements. Online condolences may be made at www.waidfuneral.com.
In lieu of flowers, Gene’s family requests that monetary donations be directed towards the new building project for the Merrill VFW Post #1638.