Elmer Eugene DeGraff
October 13, 1938 - July 15, 2021
Elmer Eugene “Gene” DeGraff hit the “Eternity With Jesus” jackpot, when he passed away on July 15, 2021.
Gene was born on October 13, 1938 in Joplin, Missouri to Elmer and Lorena DeGraff. He grew up mainly in the Smithfield, Missouri area, and graduated from Carl Junction High School in 1956. He attended Joplin Junior College.
As a young man, he successfully tried out as a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system in Atlanta. After signing his contract to play professional baseball, he was told to report to spring training for the Cardinals’ farm system in Dothan, Alabama. He took a train from Atlanta, Georgia back to Joplin, Missouri. On route, he asked Arletta Joy Edwards for her hand in marriage, which she accepted. Upon arrival to Joplin, they proceeded to Miami, Oklahoma, where they were married on April 15, 1959, and, from there, they drove non-stop to report to the Dothan Cardinals farm club. Gene pitched for the Dothan, Alabama and Keokuk, Iowa Cardinals’ farm clubs. He also played several years in the Wichita, Kansas semi-pro Invitational Tournament for the Cessna Airplane Company.
Ultimately, after his baseball career, he worked for the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway Company (the “Frisco”), which merged in 1980 and became the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, where he retired.
His wife, Arletta DeGraff, passed away in August 2020, and he is survived by his son, Shawn DeGraff and his wife, Lee Ann, of Webb City, Missouri, his daughter, Pamela Larimore, and her husband, Larry, of Joplin, Missouri, and son, Mark DeGraff, and his wife, Carrie, of Smithfield, Missouri. Also surviving are his beloved brother, Gary DeGraff, and his wife, Linda, of Smithfield, Missouri, and sisters, Patricia Watson, of Carl Junction, Missouri and Phyllis Malone, and her husband, Mike, of Carl Junction, Missouri. Gene was preceded in death also by his parents, Elmer and Rene DeGraff, and brother-in-law, Bill Watson. Gene had six grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren.
The family will receive relatives and friends at a visitation on Tuesday, July 20, 2021 from 9:45 am to 11:00 am at the Fir Road Christain Church, which will be followed immediately by a funeral service beginning at 11:00 am at the church. After the service, there will be a brief graveside service at the Mound Cemetery at State Line Road and 96 Highway. The funeral will be officiated by Kelly Ross, Dan Toney and Shawn DeGraff. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the Fir Road Christian Church or the Samaritan’s Basket Food Pantry ℅ Frisco Church, Webb City, Missouri.
Services are under the direction of Derfelt Funeral Home, Baxter Springs, Kansas.
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