Amherst Magazine

Paul W. Graff '38

Deceased September 13, 2010
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Paul W. Graff

Paul contributed coal mining to the amazing career diversity of our Great Class. His work embraced underground mining, engineering, exploration and development of the bituminous coal industry, a family enterprise.

Music and tennis enriched his leisure in Naples, Fla., and Eagles Mere, Pa. He was a fine saxophonist and clarinetist. Tennis, into his 80s, included, as he quipped, risking his marriage by partnering with his wife, Virginia (“Ginny,” Mt. Holyoke ’39) in mixed doubles.

Their happy union, alas, ended with his death in Naples Sept.13, 2010, 10 days short of their 71st wedding anniversary. Aged 94, he had multiple ailments, including slight memory loss which nevertheless didn’t keep him from “a very normal life,” Ginny said.

After executive roles in various companies, Paul deepened his expertise by getting a B.S. degree in mining engineering from Penn State in 1949. He was president of Westmoreland Mining, 1940-74; president North American Gear Co., 1958-70; founder and president of Graff Engineering Co.; consultant and property manager of Barnes & Tucker Coal. Co, a director of the Peoples Bank of Blairsville, Pa., his birthplace, and a director of Cochran Coal Co. and Braeburn Steel.

In a memoir, he said he spent the last 20 years before retirement liquidating three mines “which could not, by themselves, survive the rather severe problems of the industry.” He was author of Bituminous Coal, a Price Problem.

Although a registered Republican, he said “I do vote independently, especially for the presidency.”

Before moving to Florida in 1976, he had lived in Indiana, Pa. He had continued summering in Eagles Mere, a lake resort, until few years ago. He served in various capacities in the Presbyterian Church.

Besides his wife, he is survived by three children, David, Elizabeth and Thomas; four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.  A daughter, Jeane, predeceased him.

George Bria ’38

 

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