James Ryan Graber, 68, passed away on his farm south of Marion on Nov. 3, 2017.
He was born March 7, 1949 to parents Richard H. and Leone (Ortman) Graber and was raised on the family farm with his older brothers, DeLayne and Ken.
Jim graduated eighth grade from country school at Morningstar District 19, spent his high school years at Freeman Academy, and graduated from both Freeman Junior College and Bethel College.
In 1971, after graduating from college, he returned home to farm with his father and brother DeLayne. Jim married Muriel Kaufman and was blessed with two sons, Karl Henry and Kent Andrew. He was a loving, dedicated father who supported his sons in all of their pursuits in life. He was a mentor to his nephews and nieces as well. Jim treasured the forty-plus year relationship he shared with brother DeLayne farming. When DeLayne passed away in 2013, he continued to farm with his nephews Tom Graber and David R. Graber for the remaining years of his life. Jim was a steward of his land and worked with a calm head and steady hand. A respected farmer and person, he served on the FreMar Co-op board for over two decades.
In addition to farming, Jim was a man of many talents and interests. He was an avid patron of the fine arts, loved to sing, and enjoyed attending symphony concerts, choral concerts and musical theatre performances. Jim had leading roles in numerous Schmeckfest musicals and was the Bass soloist in several Swiss Chorale performances. Jim was a scholar as well as an outstanding athlete who took pleasure in playing basketball and fast-pitch softball into his adult years. Jim enjoyed coaching basketball at Freeman Academy, coaching softball, and being a youth group leader at his church where he was baptized and a member.
A private man, Jim had few, but deeply personal relationships with his loved ones. Remaining to remember, mourn, and celebrate his life are his brother Ken Graber and wife Ruth (Sierra Vista, Ariz.), sister-in-law Rita Graber, son Karl Graber (Freeman, S.D.), son Kent Graber and wife Kendra Orcutt (Norman, Okla.), his beloved Nanette Hofer (Prescott, Ariz.), his grandchildren Aja, Shae, and Heath Orcutt (Norman), as well as nieces, nephews and cousins.
Preceding him in death were his parents, Richard and Leone Graber and his brother DeLayne Graber.
A funeral service was held at the Salem Mennonite Church Nov. 10, with pastors Nick Detweiler-Stoddard and Robert Engbrecht officiating. Music was provided by Sherilyn Ortman, Dan Graber, Anne Waltner, Rolf Olson and the East Freeman Men’s Nine. Burial was in the church cemetery; pallbearers were Dan Graber, Jon Graber, Erik Kaufman, Dave Kaufman, Tom Graber and David R. Graber.