John “Chris” Christian Graf Jr. born in Lancaster, PA April 25, 1948, and longtime resident of Vernon, NJ, and Rupert, VT, died after a brief battle with cancer on September 13, 2021.
After growing up in Livingston, NJ, Chris attended Franklin & Marshall College (‘70) where he was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity and graduated with a degree in Social Studies and a teaching certification. He began his professional journey at Pequannock Township High School in Pompton Plain, NJ, were he spent 36 years in the Social Studies department teaching US History and Government. Over the course of his teaching career he received his Master’s Degree in History from Montclair State University as well as, Supervisor and Principal certifications. He served as the Social Studies department chair, K-12 curriculum supervisor, as well as a coach of the Academic Decathlon, the High School Bowl and the Mock Trial teams and football, wrestling, baseball, and softball teams. More importantly, he spent almost four decades making meaningful and often life long relationships with both students and colleagues.
Chris remained a lifelong educator after retirement first and foremost passing on his knowledge and passion for American history and other topics with his grandchildren as well as leading a discussion group at Equinox Village and volunteering at Hildene, the Lincoln Family home, in Manchester, Vermont. He would never pass up the opportunity to learn something new or pass on his knowledge to someone else. His love of learning was only matched by his love of people.
Throughout his life Chris balanced his passion for public education with his love of family, travel, including to his home in Calabash, NC, home improvements, wood working, skiing, gardening, reading, a passion for trains, and many other activities. One of his greatest prides was the log home he built with his family and friends; a project that continued to keep him busy 30 years later. Over the past twelve years he found tremendous joy from his five grandchildren; always making it a point to focus on each one’s individual interests such as lacrosse, basketball, soccer, skiing, woodworking, telling jokes, reading, dancing, gardening, baking, art, traveling, history, and splashing in the ocean and digging in the sand.
Chris is survived by his beloved wife and partner of fifty years Karen S. Graf (née Felter), son John C. Graf III, his wife Sarah and their children J. Weston and Emma of Pawlet, VT, daughter Kimberly R. Arnott, her husband Chet and their children McKenna, Quinn, and Caden of Manchester, MD, his sister Debbie Smitko of Highland Lakes, NJ, his brother in-law Todd Felter of Westfield, NJ, and many nieces, nephews as well as great nieces and nephews.
Chris is predeceased by his mother F. June Graf, father Hans C. Graf Sr., and brother Michael.
A celebration of his life will be held in the Spring of 2022. In the meantime, if you knew Chris please find comfort in your memories of him. In lieu of flowers the family requests that you make donations to the Read Ahead program in his memory. Checks may be sent to Read Ahead ℅ Kristen Baldwin, Executive Director
38 Hawthorne Street Rutherford, NJ 07070. Donations can also be made on the organization’s website, https://readahead.org/donations/