Emil (E.J.) Graff (1892-1990)
Emil Graff had a long and successful life by simply sticking to his motto: “Have interests that make you think about the present and the future – too many people dwell on the past.” Born to Emil and Charlotte Juliet Roulet Graf, Emil’s father tragically passed away when Emil was only six years old. As the oldest of eight children, Emil vowed to elevate the family out of destitution. The extreme financial burdens of his early life propelled him to pursue his education, and in 1914, after proudly serving as class president, Emil graduated from the Dixie Academy, a treasured high point in his life. He attended the Utah Agricultural College in Logan, Utah. Thereafter he moved to Hurricane, Utah where he taught school in LaVerkin and Toquerville and purchased what later became known as Graff Mercantile. It was during this time that he changed his last name from Graf to Graff and preferred to be called E.J., which he felt better personified his business pursuits. Emil’s knack for investing and acquiring properties and businesses was widely known and at one time he was the second largest producer of eggs in the United States. Emil was a financial and management genius, believing in responsibility, accountability, diligence and trustworthiness. He was a veteran member of both the St. George Rotary and Hurricane Lion’s Clubs. He served on the Washington County Conservancy and School Board, the Dixie College Institutional Council, and one term as County Commissioner. Emil and his wife LaVerna felt a deep responsibility to help people in need and participated in civic responsibilities well into their later years. They were especially partial to Emil’s beloved Dixie College, leaving an endowment that was memorialized as the Graff Fine Arts Center. Emil always “kept his eye to the future,” and downplayed his success. “I was just fortunate,” he simply stated. Emil and LaVerna were the parents of three children: Emil Mace, Dawn, and Shirl Ray. Emil’s wife LaVerna passed away in 1985. In 1988, Emil married Nina B. Huish. Emil J. Graff was a great man who contributed enormously to the world he lived in. He passed away in 1990 at the age of 97.