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Thomas de Graaf
Jan. 22, 1924 June 11, 2010
Tom de Graaf, 86, of Turlock, passed away at his home on Friday, June 11. Tom had been an active member of the Turlock community since 1963. He was born in Santa Cruz on Jan. 22, 1924, the son of Tom and Alice de Graaf of the Netherlands, who followed their dreams to begin a new life in the United States. He attended Ripon Christian Jr. High and high school, graduating in 1941. He served in the Air Force during WW II, from 1943-1946. After his military service, Tom attended Modesto Junior College from 1946 to 1948.  He played on the football team and won the championship in 1947. He then attended Fresno State College, and graduated in 1950.
Tom began his teaching career at Denair Jr. High School in 1950. He taught at Gustine Jr. High from 1951 to 1955 and at Hilmar High School from 1955 to 1962, where he also coached football, basketball, track and baseball. Tom led Hilmar High School to win a football championship in 1956, as well as three championship titles in 1958 for football, basketball and track. He was named the league’s Coach of the Year.
Tom also served an administrative role as the president of the California Teachers’ Association for Merced County Schools and was a life member of the California Teachers’ Association. He earned a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Pacific. After 22 years of teaching and coaching at Turlock High School, he retired.
Tom is survived by his wife of 62 years, Georgia de Graaf, of Turlock; his son, Dr. Thomas G. de Graaf and his wife, Laura, of Virginia Beach, Va.; daughters, Darla Silva and her husband, Dennis, of Oakdale, and Diann Fugate and her husband, Don, of San Jose; grandchildren, Lori Bianchi (Mike), Christi Stoll (Harold), Donny Fugate ( Jolene), Brandon de Graaf  (Athena), Justin de Graaf, David Fugate, Denise Iverson ( Derek), Matthew Silva (Nicole) and Anna Grace de Graaf; great grandchildren, Nicholas, Nicole and Natalie Bianchi, Timothy and Jordan Martinez, Joseph Peyton de Graaf, and Hailey Rae Iverson; brother, Henry de Graaf; and sister, Alice Ary.  Tom was preceded in death by his sister, Marie Workman.
Throughout most of his life, Tom served his community in church music. Over a 70-year period of time, he was the church music director at Grace Baptist Church in Modesto, First Baptist Church in Gustine, First Baptist Church in Hilmar, Broadway Baptist Church in Turlock, and Berkeley Avenue Baptist Church in Turlock, where he was also named music director emeritus.  Tom was the Central Valley Association Music Director for 17 years. He was also moderator for the Central Valley Association, and music and sports director for the Royal Ambassador Youth Camps at Jenness Park. He was honored to receive the “Duane Barrett Lifetime Music Achievement Award” from the California Southern Baptist Convention.
Viewing will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, June 17 at Lakewood Memorial Park Chapel, 900 Santa Fe Ave., Hughson. Memorial services will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, June 17 at the Lakewood Memorial Park Chapel.