KALAMAZOO — Father John, of Kalamazoo, died Sunday, March 30, 2014, at Upjohn Nursing Home. He was born in Niles on July 6, 1929, the son of John Marshall and Eva (Rayfuse) Grathwohl.
He graduated from Loras Academy, Dubuque, Iowa, attended St. John’s Seminary, Plymouth, and Loras College, Dubuque, Iowa.
He was ordained a Catholic Priest on June 7, 1955, and served as assistant pastor at St. Charles of Borromeo, Coldwater, St. Augustine, Kalamazoo, and St. Paul, Owosso. He was pastor at St. Mary, Morrice, St. Monica, (assistant pastor), Kalamazoo, St. Therese, Lansing, St. Peter, Eaton Rapids, St. Catherine of Siena, Portage, St. Ambrose, Parchment, Immaculate Conception, Hartford, and St. Thomas More, Kalamazoo.
Father John was a brother, cousin, uncle and special friend to many here and around the world. He was a very generous person, readily recognizing when someone was in need and did what he could to alleviate the need, no matter how small or large or what the cost may have been to him. Clearly, his ministry reflects his love for people.
He had a love for nature and spent a lot of time with friends and family camping, hiking, canoeing, skiing and sitting around a campfire at his cabin, singing songs and telling stories.
Throughout his life he carried a competitive spirit of playfulness that enabled him to connect with children and adults alike. His family or friends who challenged him to a game of racket or basketball or even a game of Scrabble would tell you how he hated to lose. He would bring every ounce of skill he had to the game and in the end, if it meant he had to put one over on another to win, he was not above doing so, hoping he would not get caught. He loved a challenge and perhaps it was the challenge that led him to serve others in so many ways.