Cover photo for Donald Sylvan Graf's Obituary
Donald Sylvan Graf Profile Photo

Donald Sylvan Graf

December 3, 1938 — July 24, 2023

Santa Clara, Utah

Donald Sylvan Graf

Donald Sylvan Graf passed away peacefully on Monday, July 24, 2023, in St. George, Utah, at the age of 84, with his loving wife of 65 years, Patricia (Patsy) Empey Graf, by his side.

Donald Sylvan Graf was born to Sylva Schow, of Escalante, Utah, and Sylvan Graf, of Santa Clara, Utah, on December 3, 1938, in Santa Clara, Utah. Don was raised in Santa Clara where he was proud of his Swiss heritage and enjoyed the small-town atmosphere. He would swim in the boys’ pond, ride his horse, hunt in the hills, play andy-i-over with all the kids in town, and spend time especially with his older brother Garry. His siblings are Garry (Donna Chamberlain), Shirlee (Larry Bray), Mary (Myrle Bostwick, Steve Sevy), Roberta (Dave DeCow), and Kathy (Bruce Pickett).

Don attended the original Dixie High School on Tabernacle. He played baseball, basketball, and the saxophone in the band. He was student body president his senior year. He married his high school sweetheart whom he met in the 8th grade, Patricia (Patsy) Lynn Empey, on July 2, 1958. They were sealed the following year in the St. George Temple. He attended college at Dixie College, CSU (known now as Southern Utah University in Cedar City), where he received a degree in Education, and received a master’s degree in education from Northern Arizona University. In the summers, Don and Patsy would run "Don's Fruit Market" in front of his parents' "Rose Garden Nursery" in Santa Clara, Utah. 

He raised his family in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he taught for 35 years, as an elementary school teacher. Don was known as "the favorite" teacher by all.  Don also taught his students how to play music recorders, rocket science, ceramics, and beekeeping. He had an ability to mold his students into young people who felt supported and who left his classroom better. He and Pat also built a thriving wedding photography business, “Graf’s Photography”, where they worked together on weekends for over 20 years.

He was overjoyed to retire and return to his hometown of Santa Clara in 1996, where he and Pat built a home and grew an orchard of over 50 fruit trees, as well as a robust garden. If you couldn’t find Don, just look out back. He found joy in giving fruit away to his neighbors and loved spending time talking to his life-long friends. Don received the honor of “Santa Clara Grand Marshall” for the “2015 Swiss Days of Santa Clara”. Don was an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He served as a 70's missionary, served in the Las Vegas, Nevada, and St George, Utah, temple baptistries, and served with Pat as a missionary at the cannery in St George, Utah. He served in bishoprics, Primary, Scouting, and anywhere he was asked.

Don is best known for playing practical jokes, being Santa's helper, working in his orchard, playing Canasta and Rook, and winning with a sparkle in his eye, sharing ice cream with his family every chance he could get, and having a camera in his hand capturing family moments.

He is a wonderful father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He has left a great legacy which includes: his wife, Pat, his children, Jeff (Pam), Todd (Barbara), Jennifer, Troy (Joan), Rebecca, Tricia (Marc Lyman), Scott (Shera), 17 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren. 

He is preceded in death by his parents, Sylvan & Sylva Graf, sister, Shirlee Bray, brother-in-laws, Myrle Bostwick and Larry Bray, sister-in-law, FayDonna Chamberlain Graf, daughter, Rebecca, daughter-in-law Joan Klomp Graf, and great-grandson, William Kayne.

Viewings will take place on Thursday, August 3, 2023, from 5:00 - 7:00 pm at Spilsbury Mortuary, 110 South Bluff Street, St. George, Utah, and Friday, August 4, 2023, 8:30 - 9:30 am at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Santa Clara Main Street Chapel, 3040 Santa Clara Drive, Santa Clara, Utah.  

A Celebration of Life will follow at 10:00 am, also at the Santa Clara Chapel, with Internment at 11:15 am at the Santa Clara City Cemetery.

Family and friends that were unable to attend the services can still listen to the services by visiting:

http://www.funeralrecording.com/ and searching for Donald Sylvan Graf.

The family would like to express their heartfelt gratitude to the wonderful staff at Southgate Senior Living Center, and to the many faithful and loving friends who visited Don. We cannot repay the amount of love and generosity that has been shown.

Arrangements are made under the direction of Spilsbury Mortuary, 110 South Bluff Street, St. George, Utah. 435-673-2454

Friends and family are invited to sign Don’s online guest book at www.spilsburymortuary.com

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Donald Sylvan Graf, please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Visitation

Thursday, August 3, 2023

5:00 - 7:00 pm (Mountain time)

Spilsbury Mortuary - St George

110 S Bluff St, St. George, UT 84770

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Visitation

Friday, August 4, 2023

8:30 - 9:30 am (Mountain time)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - Santa Clara Meeting House

3040 Santa Clara Dr, Santa Clara, UT 84765

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Celebration of Life

Friday, August 4, 2023

10:00 - 11:00 am (Mountain time)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - Santa Clara Meeting House

3040 Santa Clara Dr, Santa Clara, UT 84765

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Interment

Friday, August 4, 2023

11:15am - 12:15 pm (Mountain time)

Santa Clara City Cemetery

Ancestor Way, Santa Clara, UT 84765

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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