Gilbert Thomas Graf

Born: Wed., Sep. 7, 1938
Died: Tue., Mar. 19, 2019

Funeral Service

2:00 PM Fri., Mar. 22, 2019
Location: Honey Creek Woodlands

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Music by The Piano Brothers


Tom Graf of Decatur, Georgia passed away March 19, 2019 at the age of 80.  Under his 38-year leadership as Executive Director of Atlanta Alliance on Developmental Disabilities (AADD), the organization enhanced its role as a primary care provider and utilized advocacy as a means of bringing about improvements in community services, closing large state institutions, and obtaining human and civil rights for people with developmental disabilities.  Under his guidance, AADD’s major legislative victories included the Mandatory Education Act for Exceptional Children of 1968, the Community Services Act of 1972, the Mentally Retarded Offender Act of 1975, and the Metabolic Screening Act of 1978.  Through his compassion and dedication, Graf changed the lives of countless people with developmental disabilities and their families.

During his tenure, Tom Graf initiated several programs that continue making a significant impact on Georgians, including the Georgia Special Olympics (Graf was one of three Georgia founders); the Bobby Dodd Institute, addressing the needs of adults with disabilities to achieve economic self-sufficiency through employment; the Tommy Nobis Center, a private, not-for-profit community rehabilitation program providing comprehensive job training and employment services to youth and adults with obstacles to employment; and Partners in Policymaking, providing the opportunity for people with disabilities, parents, and family members to attend a series of leadership training seminars that cultivate an understanding of tools for self-advocacy and to use them.

Mr. Graf’s work led him beyond the borders of Georgia-- he lectured and assisted with various programs  across the US and internationally (Europe, Canada, Philippines).

A 1956 graduate of Lancaster High School (Ohio), he received his bachelor’s degree at Ohio University and master’s from Ohio State.  He credited the Ohio University Wrestling Department for his college education—and remained a devoted Bobcat supporter throughout his life.

He is survived by his wife of 27 years, Dellie; daughter and son-in-law Christina and Tom Byelick; son and daughter-in-law Brian and Ginger Graf; his grandchildren Simon and Isabelle Graf & Thomas and William Byelick; his brother Charlie Graf; his sister Mary Jo Echols; father-in-law Silvestre Comendador; brother-in-laws Algier, Baltazar, and Eugenio Comendador; and a host of nieces and nephews.

The funeral service will be Friday, March 22, 2019 at 2:00pm at the Honey Creek Woodlands Chapel at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his name to:

Special Olympics Georgia

Ohio University Wrestling Department  designate “wrestling” department

L’Arche Atlanta



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Angielite Comendador
   Posted Thu March 21, 2019
From all of us his family here in the Philippines, he was our Uncle Tom. Our dearest Uncle Tom who supported us unconditionally.
As for me, he was a great supporter and believer. He taught me a lot of things like a failure is not really a failure, its a lesson that you could take for your journey towards success. He pondered to me how education is very important and to never stop learning and gaining knowledge. He was the most understanding man i’ve ever encountered in my life. He’s so proud of me because he always tells me that and I can really say he is so proud of me. When I graduated from college I know and felt that he sees so much in me and I was so grateful to him and to Inday Dellie for the support they gave to me. I am in so much grief that i’ve lost one of those people whom I valued and loved so much but I know he’s already in his happy place with the Almighty Father. Rest in peace Uncle Tom, I hope I let you feel how important you are and how much I love you both with Inday Dellie so much when you were still with us. I know that even though you’re not with us physically, you’re still there guiding us. You’re now our angel. You’ll forever be in our hearts, a treasure we will forever remember and our dearest Uncle Tom whom forever we will be grateful.

Thank you Lord for letting us borrow our Uncle Tom.

Rhina Comendador
   Posted Thu March 21, 2019
I am deeply saddened by the news of your loss. I pray that God will grant you the strength. My most sincere condolences.
Rest in peace uncle tom

   Posted Wed March 27, 2019
I am very sorry for your loss. Losing a loved one is so difficult, but the God of all comfort can give you the strength you need to endure (2 Cor 1:3,4). May you find the peace and comfort you need now, and in the days ahead.

   Posted Thu March 28, 2019
My condolences to the family. I sincerely hope that your grief does not overwhelm you. A strong belief in a loving God can comfort you during this time. Psalms 34:15 says, “the eyes of Jehovah are on the righteous, and his ears listen to their cry for help.” Prayer can become good therapy, and can help us to build on our relationship with our creator who can use his power to help us cope.

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