BEDMINSTER, NJ - Rev. John Graf, Jr., died suddenly on Sunday at home.
Reverend John Graf, Jr. was a 1981 graduate of The American University in Washington D.C. and has been performing 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 range from civil, spiritual and religious and covered all faiths.
Prior to becoming a minister, Graf’s 35 year career in public relations and fundraising 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.
Graf was appointed by Gov. 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 Gov. 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 as CEO. He stepped down in 2007 and continued to work on his ministries full time.
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.
Graf was a caring, fun loving and gentle soul, always giving of himself. He 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 tomorrow at 10 a.m. in Sacred Heart RC Church, 149 South Plainfield Avenue in South Plainfield.
Family and friends may join in visitation today from 3 to 8 p.m. in the McCriskin – Gustafson Home For Funerals, 2425 Plainfield Avenue in South Plainfield.
A second memorial service will be held on Tuesday, March 15 at 10:30 a.m. in St. John's Episcopal Church, 158 West High Street in Somerville.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Somerset Treatment Services, 118 West End Avenue, Somerville, NJ 08876.