In Memory of

Joseph Nicholas Graff

April 9, 1931 - November 2, 2021
From: Spencer, IA
Joseph Nicholas Graff

Joseph Nicholas Graff

Born: April 9, 1931
Died: November 2, 2021
Age: 90

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Joseph Nicholas Graff, age 90, passed away on the feast of All Soul’s Day, November 2, 2021. He was born in Akron, Iowa and spent his childhood years on a farm in Linn Grove, Iowa. He graduated from Linn Grove High School in 1949. Joe proudly served in the Navy during the Korean War from 1950 to 1954, eventually rising to the rank of Lt. JG.  Joe met Patricia Lenz in 1949 and they were married on July 19, 1954 at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Sioux Rapids. They lived in Omaha while Joe attended Creighton University, then moved to Spencer where he lived the next 60 years and always called home. 

     Joe worked for 35 years in the Spencer Community School system. He was a math and physics teacher for 8 years, assistant superintendent for 13 years and superintendent for 14 years. Joe also attended school during the summers and took a one-year sabbatical during which time he achieved his Masters and Specialists degrees. 

     Joe spent many years in service to education and the community of Spencer. He was an original board member of Iowa Lakes Community College. He served on several committees at Sacred Heart Church and was on the school boards of Sacred Heart School and what was the Spencer School of Business. He was a member and past president of the Lions Club and was a Spencer City Council member for 5 years.

     Joe had a strong faith and was a longtime member of Sacred Heart Church. He enjoyed fishing, hunting, Notre Dame football and playing cards. Most of all he enjoyed spending time with his family. In 2018 Joe moved to West Des Moines to be closer to his children. He passed away at home, surrounded by family, after a short battle with lymphoma.

     Joe was preceded in death by Patricia, his wife of 58 years; his parents, Peter and Anna Graff; his brothers, Al, Peter and Leo; his sister, Marie Harris; his grandson, Lucas Westlund and his granddaughter, Abby Clingan. Left to cherish his memory are his four daughters, Anne Graff, Cheryl Westlund (Jeff), Mary Kay Clingan (Tom), Joan Maley (Walt), son-in-law, Terry Brown, nine grandchildren, four great grandchildren and his sister, Kay Burns (Darel).

Funeral Services will be held at 10:00 A.M., Saturday, November 6, 2021 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Spencer.

Memorials may be directed to Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Spencer.
Father Tim Hogan
Father Roger Linnan
Father Chris Hartshorn
Terry Brown
Jeff Westlund
Tom Clingan
Walt Maley
Nick Westlund
Peter Westlund
Joe Maley
Dan Maley

John Clingan EOD3
Will be held from 5:00 to 7:00 P.M. on Friday with the family present at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church.  A Rosary Service will follow at 7:00 P.M. at the Church.
Riverside Cemetery
Spencer, Iowa


Wednesday, November 17, 2021 at 7:40 AM
“So fortunate to see Mr. Graff’s obituary. It refreshes my Class of 62 Spencer High math class memories. He shared his real life military experiences while steering me on to that graduation credit. Thanks for his service to our country and to his dedication to we students. ”
- Robert A Swanson
Monday, November 8, 2021 at 9:34 AM
“To Joe's family-We are sorry to read of Joe's passing. He was a true gentleman and such a loyal supporter of our Spencer community and our Sacred Heart parish. A great example for the rest of us to follow. Our prayers are with you.”
- Duane & Joan Kallsen
Monday, November 8, 2021 at 9:34 AM
“What a beautiful tribute to an amazing man. Sending our deepest condolences. Peace and hugs to all!”
- Scott and Teri Thompson
Sunday, November 7, 2021 at 12:12 PM
“We are saddened to learn of Joe’s passing. Sending much love, hugs and condolences to all of his family and friends. ❤️”
- Sandy and Mike Holmes
Saturday, November 6, 2021 at 2:59 PM
“He will always be remembered as a kind, intelligent and considerate man. The world is diminished when we lose people of his stature.
Prayers for you all.”
- Steve and Mary Steele
Saturday, November 6, 2021 at 1:25 PM
“Mr, Graff was a wonderful administrator for Spencer Schools! I enjoyed teaching elementary school while he was our superintendent!
Many prayers for the Joe Graff family. May our Lord wrap His loving arms around all of you & give you peace & comfort.”
- Anita & Dave Donaldson
Saturday, November 6, 2021 at 9:10 AM
“I am so sorry for your loss. I missed seeing this till Sat a.m or I would of made it to visitation. Such a kind man . I enjoyed getting to know him and you girls when I helped care for your mom. My deepest sympathies.”
- Dawn Feucht
Saturday, November 6, 2021 at 7:48 AM
“Joan and family so sorry to hear about the passing of your dad. Thoughts and prayers are with you all at this time. ”
- Fayette Butler Enger
Friday, November 5, 2021 at 11:55 AM
“So sorry for the loss of your Dad Mary Kay & Family, keeping you in my thoughts & prayers.
Dave & DeEtte Lee”
- DeEtte Lee
Friday, November 5, 2021 at 11:55 AM
“I am thinking of all of you at this sad time. Hope it's a comfort that your Dad &Anne were able to take part in the recent Honor Flight. What a great memory for your whole family. The deeper the love, the deeper the loss. May your memories bring you comfort & peace. Love, Stacy Boston”
- Stacy Boston
Friday, November 5, 2021 at 7:49 AM
“Cheryl I’m so sorry to hear about your dad. What a sweet man. Losing our parents is so tuff! Cherish all the wonderful memories. Thinking of you . Deborah Kress Helmke (77)”
- Deborah Kress Helmke
Friday, November 5, 2021 at 7:49 AM
Thursday, November 4, 2021 at 2:11 PM
“Mr. Graff was one of my favorite teachers while was attending high school in the '60s”
- Donald D Hayden
Thursday, November 4, 2021 at 11:09 AM
“We knew Joe and Pat while living in Everly from ‘83-‘86. He was my superintendent and my husband’s mentor because he was superintendent in Everly. What an amazing man!

It was an honor to know him both personally and professionally.

Our sincer condolences.”
- Pat and Steve Wehr
Thursday, November 4, 2021 at 11:08 AM
“We knew Joe and Pat while living in Everly from ‘83-‘86. He was my superintendent and my husband’s mentor because he was superintendent in Everly. What an amazing man!

It was an honor to know him both personally and professionally.

Our sincer condolences.”
- Pat and Steve Wehr
Thursday, November 4, 2021 at 8:56 AM
“So sorry to hear this news. Joe and Pat were the best neighbors ever. I enjoyed my drop in lunches with Joe and hearing about his many adventures growing up. I especially enjoyed the road trip to his home place in Linn Grove. Truly, a remarkable, kind man. He'll be missed.”
- John & Heidi Toale
Thursday, November 4, 2021 at 7:30 AM
“Dear Graff Girls,
With our deep and sincere sympathy we extend our heartfelt love and prayers to you all. We were blessed to have been friends with Joe and Pat, and you were doubly blessed to call them “Mom & Dad”! We will keep you in our thoughts and in our hearts in the days ahead.
With love, The Worsfold Family”
- Cheryl Schoof
Thursday, November 4, 2021 at 7:30 AM
“Mr. Graff was an incredible superintendent for the Spencer School System. He was a kind, gentle man and a wonderful boss! Prayers for his family.”
- Brenda Griffin
Thursday, November 4, 2021 at 7:30 AM
“My sincere sympathy to the family of Mr. Graff. He was my favorite high school teacher back in the 60’s when he taught a semester of Probability to a small group of soon to be graduating seniors. He made the class so interesting and fun that I still to this day remember some of the lessons that he taught us. I hadn’t seen him in several years, but he was always glad to see me and interesting to visit with when I did run in to him. I pray that God will comfort you and give you strength through this sad time in your lives. We will be thinking of you and keeping you in our prayers.”
- Mark Schmid
Thursday, November 4, 2021 at 7:30 AM
“There simply are no words to describe what Joe Graff meant to Spencer Schools and to Spencer. He truly represents what it means to be genuine, honest, and kind! He is the reason we moved to Spencer. Each and every time we saw Joe, he had such sincerity and personalized every visit in a way that made you feel #1! We are all forever changed for having known him. Our deepest sympathies to Joe’s extended family. He will be missed dearly snd remembered deeply!”
- Wayne and Diana Koppen
Thursday, November 4, 2021 at 7:29 AM
“My heart breaks hearing this news. I will never forget how kind hearted and selfless Joe was. My deepest condolences to the family. ”
- Morgan Stuckey
Wednesday, November 3, 2021 at 4:20 PM
“I am sorry to learn of the passing of "Mr. Graff". I use that title, because that is how I knew him when I was a student at Spencer High School back in the 1960s. I remember a soft spoken, kind man, a man of music. I can recall, with fondness, Mr. Graff singing at one of our school dances, serenading the King and Queen of the Valentine's Dance. I was fortunate to be that queen, and the memory of his song touches me to this day. I am sure he never realized his kind act would mean so much to that young girl. I am 75 years old now and still remember Mr. Graff with affection. My sympathy to your family.”
- Jeannette Hughes Meyer
Wednesday, November 3, 2021 at 4:19 PM
“God bless sweet, kind, considerate Joe. May he Rest In Peace. Such good memories of a wonderful, faithful man and role model to his family and friends. Love you all ❤️”
- Lauren & Joe Crippes
Wednesday, November 3, 2021 at 2:37 PM
“Anne, so very sorry to hear of your Dad’s passing. He was a wonderful man who lived his life with grace & dignity. I know how much he will be missed but such a great legacy he left for his children and grandchildren. Thinking of you all & sending prayers of comfort.
With sympathy and love,
Barb (Boyd) Barner”
- Barbara Boyd Barner
Wednesday, November 3, 2021 at 2:05 PM
“Anne, I am so sorry for the loss of your father. He was such a great man, and an example of faith and goodness for all to follow. May all your fond memories be healing for you during this sad time.”
- Michelle Brennan Nensel
Wednesday, November 3, 2021 at 12:37 PM
“Kathy and I, along with our entire family, offer our sympathies and condolences for a man imbued with kindness and Blessed with dignity. We celebrate the example that he set forth with the conduct of his life and seek to honor him by embracing the ideals he represented. May Anne, Cheryl, Mary and Joan, and their families, come to celebrate the impact that Joe and Pat had on lives of others in Spencer and far beyond its borders.

Most of my memories of Joe involve exchange of smiles or laughter and, always, consideration for others. That considerate behavior has passed to others, as examplified by his daughters.

May all the Angels, Saints, Holy men and Holy women, along with Pat, Luke and Abby gather him into God's eternal Grace. And may God Bless the memory of Joseph Nicholas Graff. ”
- Jeff Thorsteinson
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