Posted by Sharon Schendel on Feb 03, 2019
Al Graff (center) with Ed Siegel and Bessie Floyd
Dessert for the day was, of course, cake!
We were delighted to help Honorary Member Al Graff celebrate his 100th birthday at our January 31, 2019 meeting. Al was born in North Dakota, but spent much of his life in Southern California. He attended Catholic grade school and Loyola High School in Los Angeles before studying mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley. He and his wife Marianne had 5 children, 4 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren. 
Al said that when he was ordained as a deacon in 1983, he was told that the most important thing deacons can do is to help the poor. He recalled several projects he co-founded or served that had a primary mission of helping those less fortunate. Al co-founded Esperanza International, which provides housing and medical care for residents of Tijuana. In 1991, Past President of Rotary Club of Del Mar Dr. Dick Wheelock approached Al to ask if he could find some space at St. Leo’s where he could see patients, which was the beginning of St. Leo’s Medical/Dental clinic. Al was instrumental in finding a home for Head Start chapters around the county, as well as for encouraging Rotary Club of Del Mar, which he joined in 1990, to sponsor a holiday party for Head Start students.  He also served on the boards of the Community Resource Center and the Mexican American Education Guidance Association (MAEGA) that raises funds for college scholarships for children of Mexican Latin American descent. 
To honor all of Al’s contributions to the community, Mission Circle, together with the St. James Scholarship Fund, established the Deacon Al Graff Scholarship that will provide tuition support for children of immigrants and low-income families to receive a Catholic education.  Al considers the tuition support he received to attend Loyola High School an instrumental part of his successful life. Please consider donating to the fund to help other young children receive similar support.