Celebrating Al Graf, 2022 Elder Day Honoree

Al Graf (Woody Fridae/Courtesy photo)

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By Wally Pearce, Winters Elder Day Council
Special to the Express

Al Graf was born in Sacramento at Mercy Hospital. on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 1931. Al grew-up in Winters and lived with his parents and sister on Main Street in a house that his mother’s parents built. Years later, Al and his wife Kay sold that home to their son, and the home is still in the family today, for more than 90 years.

Al’s dad was a grain farmer in Winters, and Al remembers his dad saying that the price of grain was the worst it had been since the depression years. Al’s dad was an avid game hunter and the family lived on wild meat for many of their meals. Today, Al’s family still farms the ranch that was settled by his great grandparents in 1853 when they immigrated from Ireland.

While growing-up in Winters, Al played softball with his neighbors on Main Street many afternoons. Vehicle traffic was relatively limited at the time.

One of Al’s neighbors was a barber, and he gave Al free haircuts until Al attended college. The barber also taught Al how to safely use hand-tools, like saws and bits, and trusted Al to use his own tool’s. At age 13, Al built an 8’x10’ playhouse for his sister which still stands today in their backyard.

While in high-school, Al took a mechanical drawing clas. His teacher saw that Al had a natural drawing ability and encouraged Al to become an architect.

Al’s mother was of German heritage and was born there during a family visit. Al recalls that when he was in the 7th grade, he and his mother studied the constitution together as his mother sought, and became, a naturalized citizen.

Al finished high-school when he was 16-years old. Al says he was not athletic but was instead very academic. He attended Sacramento Jr. College for one-year because of his youth. Al later attended UC Berkeley, receiving his Bachelor and Masters’ degrees in Architecture.

Al married Kay Butler in October 1958. Al and Kay have three children, and two great-grandchildren.

Fresh from college, Al’s first job took him to Sacramento to an architectural firm where he started getting work in the City of Winters designing the Waggoner school.

After obtaining his architecture license, Al started his own architectural business. He was instrumental in designing many of the buildings built in the City of Winters. Al’s professional mark on our community is profound and legendary.

During Al’s professional years, he was active in many civic organizations, including being a commissioner on the City of Winters Planning Commission, a member of Winters City Council, and was elected City of Winters Mayor. Al also served on the Yolo County Board of Building Appeals and volunteered as an examiner for the California State Board of Architectural Examiners.

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