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Austin County Obits


Bellville Times
Otis Fredrick Graf was born in Piney Community, March 5, 1917. Otis died Feb
23, 2006 in Austin.
Otis¹s elementary school years were spent at Piney School, a one room school
house. Otis was a social justice role model beginning in his boyhood, when,
at an early age, he refused to join other boys to pick up rocks tossing them
into the windows of the African-American school. As a youngster, Otis
thought Negro children deserved the same right to an education as he and his
white pals.
On his first day at Bellville High, Miss Louise Louwien, seeking to
determine the abilities of students from one room country schools, asked the
class to diagram a sentence. Having never learned to ³diagram², and wanting
to succeed, Otis looked on Goldie Grube¹s paper and copied it. Later Otis
surpassed Goldie and others academically and graduated from Bellville High
School in 1934. To get to Bellville High School, Dad rode a bicycle up the
several miles of hills into Bellville, because the Cochran School bus which
passed him by on his bicycle, did not allow him to ride the bus, because
Otis¹ parents didn¹t pay Cochran school taxes. In spite of the Great
Depression, with the encouragement of his parents, Otis went to Texas
Lutheran College for two years, receiving an Associate of Arts degree in
Otis married Estelle Margaret Oberrender Oct. 22, 1939. They made their home
in Hempstead Texas where Otis worked for the WPA (Works Progress
Administration), a Roosevelt post depression program. After moving to
Houston, Otis worked as a postal clerk in the Houston Post Office from 1941
until his retirement in 1972. During his time at the Houston Post Office,
Otis was recruited for a position at the Houston Postal Credit Union, where
he eventually became Assistant General Manager and Vice President. Otis was
proud to be associated with credit unions because of their comittment to
ordinary people and their financial needs. Otis retired a second time, from
the Credit Union, in 1987. Otis was highly regarded as a beloved manager of
those who worked under his supervision.
Otis and his first wife Estelle, were early members of Holy Cross Lutheran
Church in the Spring Branch community of Houston. Otis was proud to live in
Houston where he raised his six children. He said ³country girls and boys
like me made Houston the world class city Houston became.² Otis said he wore
his cowboy hat while driving the Houston freeways, because ³I got more
respect, wearing the cowboy hat."
After Estelle¹s untimely death in 1962, Otis married Elizabeth Pfluger in
1963. He was proud to have married two women, first cousins, from the
Pfluger family. Otis and Elizabeth celebrated a joyous 25th anniversary at
Coshatte Hall in Bellville with a barbeque/dance. Otis learned to dance and
enjoyed dancing during his marriage to Elizabeth. He and Elizabeth traveled
widely in the U.S. and took two trips to Germany, where Otis ³held his own²
speaking German, which he learned because his immigrant grandparents refused
to speak English.
Elizabeth preceded Otis in death. Because both Otis¹ wives were from
adjacent farms in Bishop Texas, he remained connected to south Texas where
he proudly farmed Pfluger land during World War II.
Otis yearned to return to his roots in Austin County. Thus in the 1970¹s he
and Elizabeth purchased land and built a retirement home near the Piney
community, where Otis grew up. They continued to live in Houston and
Bellville, holding many memorable gatherings in the country for family and
friends. Otis, a self-made man, built and created numerous interesting
features at their country place, which he and Elizabeth named Bellheim,
including the windmill brought from South Texas and erected at Bellheim; a
roost for his ³buzzard friends²;  piers for the ponds; a  bridge over Piney
Creek, accomplishments of which he was suitably proud. He involved his
children and grandchildren Bellheim projects. This created a sense of family
³togetherness² and happy memories.
Otis remained a loyal alumnus of Texas Lutheran and was a President¹s
Associate until his death. Otis¹ youngest son Charles pre-deceased him in
2005. Otis is survived by daughters Mary Alice Graf, Dianne Elaine Berman,
and Daesene Willmann and by sons Otis Jr. and Kermit and one brother Harold
Graf. Additionally, he is survived by grandchildren: Mary Willmann, Carl
Willmann, Angela Graf, Phillip Graf, Marcus Graf, Christopher Graf, Amy
Graf, Ryan Graf, Stephen Graf and Lily Graf, and great grand children, Sarah
Jane Willmann, Noah Graf and Makala Graf.
Otis and his family request that in lieu of flowers, memorials be given to
Texas Lutheran University, the Elizabeth Pfluger Scholarship Fund; Holy
Cross Lutheran in Houston; or St.John/San Juan Lutheran in Austin.
A memorial service will be held at Austin Peel & Son Funeral Home on Sunday
Feb 26 at 6 p.m.
Private burial will be at Memorial Oaks Cemetery in Houston Wednesday March
1 at 11 a.m., followed by another memorial Service at Holy Cross Lutheran
Church at 2 p.m.
Posted by Joy Neely


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