Bob Graeff was a 1943 graduate of Stivers High School where he received varsity letters in tennis, football and basketball. He excelled in tennis and teamed with 2013 Hall of Fame recipient Darwin Helmbold to win the City Championship in 1943. He also played left guard on the football team. He usually was lined up beside Darwin, who was the center on the varsity team.
What a busy young man he must have been. In addition to all of the sports that he played, Bob also was cast in the lead male role in the three-act comedy ‘And Came the Spring’. He also had roles in numerous other plays.
After high school, Bob served in the Navy and saw action during World War II in the Philippines, Okinawa and Japan. After the war, he attended Miami University and graduated in 1949. While at Miami, he was a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity.
He married Barbara Merrick Graeff on January 28, 1949, at the Memorial Presbyterian Church in Oxford, Ohio. They were married for 60 years.
He joined the family business, Graeff Hardware, in 1949 and also devoted much of his time to the community activities. After his playing days at Stivers, Bob came back as a volunteer coach. The 1954 team photo show Hall of Famers, Jim Hanby (head coach), Joe Sullivan (line coach) and Bob Graeff (backfield coach). After a few years of being an assistant football coach his grandfather asked him, “You going to hand out jock straps all your life”? Bob later bough his grandfather’s interest in the business at a price “you couldn’t afford to refuse”.
Bob took over Graeff Hardware as President from 1965 to 2000. He was a longtime member of the Ohio Hardware Association and served as President of the OHA in 1979. He also was a board member of the East Dayton Business Association, supporter of Dayton area Big Brothers and Big Sisters and was a longtime member of the Dayton Agonis Club.
In 1986, Bob was recognized as the “Small Business Person of the Year” in Montgomery County. The award, sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration, was presented at a seminar at the University of Dayton. Bob was quoted in the Dayton Daily News as saying, “For me, this is an award for all the people who work at Graeff Hardware. Good talent can make a coach look awful good”.
Bob enjoyed many years playing tennis at Dayton Indoor, taking skiing vacations in Michigan and Colorado and vacationing on Siesta Key, Florida. He enjoyed many years of sports car auto racing with the Sports Car Club of America. His fondest auto racing memories were when he raced together with his son, Rick.
Bob Graeff died on December 21, 2009.