Nelson Paul DeGraff, 61 / April 18, 1948 – Feb. 10, 2010Published 10:51am Friday, February 12, 2010
Nelson Paul DeGraff, 61, of Pokagon Highway, Dowagiac passed away Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010, at his home surrounded by his family, after a courageous battle against cancer.
Nelson was born to the late Louis DeGraff Sr. and Lorriean (Sherwood) DeGraff on April 18, 1948 in Dowagiac.
On Nov. 8, 1969 at a ceremony in Dowagiac he married Sandra Wallace, the woman who stole his heart and has continued to be the love of his life for more than 40 years.
Described as a hard worker and good provider, Nelson worked as a journeymen welder at Niles Steel Tank for more than 38 years. Before Sandy and Nelson settled down to start a family, he was a stock car racer and also enjoyed working on his own car. Working hard was not something that was new to Nelson. He grew up working on the family farm and has continued living on the family property his whole life.
Nelson loved having his hands deep in the soil he worked as a boy, and has been known for the vegetable and flower gardens he grew every year, taking time to teach his children and grandchildren just how to put them in and make them grow. His family knew him to be strong-willed but he was definitely a man of strong values who made sure to instill them in those who were important and loved by him.
The family would like to express heart felt thanks to the aunts and uncles and Pastor Jon Den Houter who have helped Nelson and his family during this difficult journey as well as Borgess Hospice, especially Heather, their Hospice nurse, who showed Nelson compassion and support through this difficult time.
Preceding Nelson are his parents and his brother, Louis DeGraff, Jr.
Nelson will be greatly missed by his wife, Sandra DeGraff; his son, Daniel (Tracey) DeGraff Sr. of Dowagaic; his two daughters, Dana (Steve) Glass of Edwardsburg and Debra (Jeremy) Hadl of Dowagiac; four grandsons, Daniel Jr. and Brandon DeGraff, Zachary and Andrew Glass; his two granddaughters, Ashley Grimes, Maggie Hadl; four great-grandchildren, Aaron, Alexander and Chaz Below and also Kaeden Meadows; and his two sisters; Carol (Auddie) Squier of Dowagiac and Sharon (Bruce) Lund of Fountain Hills, Ariz.
Visitation will be Sunday, Feb. 14, 2010 from 4 to 8 p.m. at Mission Hills Memorial Chapel. The funeral will be Monday, Feb. 15, 2010 at 11 a.m. with Pastor Jon Den Houter officiating also at Mission Hills Memorial Chapel.
Those wishing to make memorial contributions may do so to Borgess Hospice 348 North Burdick St.; Kalamazoo, MI 49007 and First Christian Church of Dowagiac 121 Oak St., Dowagiac, MI 49047.
Condolences, photos and memories may be left for the family at www.brownfuneralhomeniles.com.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Brown Funeral Home and Cremation Services and Mission Hills Memorial Chapel.