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Rev. John Graf, Jr., Noted Somerset County Philanthropist, ‘Citizen Of The Year’

John GrafRev. John Graf, Jr., of Bedminster died suddenly on Sunday, March 6  at home.

Rev. Graf was a 1981 graduate of The American University in Washington D.C. and has been preforming non-denominational weddings, baptisms and funeral services throughout the metropolitan area for 20 years. Named one of “KNOTS” best picks for wedding officiants and The Wedding Wire’s top Wedding Officiant, his ceremonies ranged from civil, spiritual and religious and covered all faiths.

Prior to becoming a Minister, Rev. Graf’s 35-year career in public relations and fund raising garnered him many awards and recognitions including: National Jefferson Award recipient in 2009, Somerset County Business Partnership’s Citizen of the Year in 2002 and Business Volunteer of the Year in 1999. He also was recognized for his volunteer service by: Alternatives, Inc., Somerset Valley YMCA, Bridgewater-Somerville Rotary and Somerset Treatment Services.

Rev. Graf was said to have raised more than $100 million for area charities.

Rev. Graf was appointed by former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine to serve as a member of the Raritan Valley Community College Board of Trustees (2009-2013) and was named to the South Plainfield High School Alumni Hall of Fame in 2011.

He started his career as Coordinator of Community Relations for the Somerset County Vocational & Technical Schools in 1986, followed by a six-year stint as Director of College & Community Relations at Raritan Valley Community College until 1995 when he went to work for Governor Christie Todd Whitman as Public Information Officer at the New Jersey Department of Transportation. After, he returned to Somerset County Vo-Tech until 2005 when he was named Chief Executive Officer/President of the Somerset County United Way. At United Way, he raised nearly $20 million dollars as CEO. Rev. John stepped down in 2007 and continued to work on his ministries full time.

Rev. Graf was also a fixture at the annual “Taste of Somerset” fundraiser for The PeopleCare Center of Bridgewater, and also sang the National Anthem many times at Somerset Patriots’ baseball games.

During his ministries, he served the community that he loved for the last 20 years performing marriages, baptisms and funerals as “The Ministerman”. He continued his charitable donations with the assets he received from his ministries when he established the Claire & John Graf Family Foundation.

John was a caring, fun loving and gentle soul, always giving of himself. John spent his time on this earth living and loving life and will be missed by all. His love of theatre and the arts was an important part of his life, as well as his beloved sports teams, the Scarlet Knights Ladies Basketball team and the South Plainfield High School Wrestling team.

Predeceased by his parents, John and Claire Graf, surviving are his five siblings, Joann Graf, Cathy Russo, Rudy Graf, Jimmy Graf all of Florida and twin brother, Robert Graf of South Plainfield and by his nieces, nephews and great nieces and nephews.

A funeral mass will be held on Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 10AM in Sacred Heart RC Church, 149 South Plainfield Avenue, South Plainfield NJ 07080.

Family and friends may join in visitation on Friday from 3-8PM in the McCriskin – Gustafson Home For Funerals, 2425 Plainfield Avenue, South Plainfield NJ 07080.

A second memorial service will be held on Tuesday, March 15, 2016 at 10:30AM in St. John’s Episcopal Church, 158 West High Street, Somerville, NJ.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Somerset Treatment Services, 118 West End Avenue, Somerville, NJ 08876.

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