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 1936. 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