Luther “Lou” W. Graef, a former president of both ASCE and the ASCE Foundation, and the founder of a prominent engineering and consulting firm, has died. He was 90.
"To the engineer falls the job of clothing the bare bones of science with life, comfort, and hope. No doubt, as years go by, people forget which engineer did it, if they ever even knew,” he was fond of saying. But all who knew the man himself remember his passion for civil engineering and his influence in the Society.
Graef, P.E., Pres.98.ASCE, after years leading the Wisconsin Section, was a board director for the former District 8 from 1989 to 1992. He helped launch the ASCE Foundation in 1994, endowed the foundation’s campaign to enable ASCE’s move from New York City to northern Virginia, and served as foundation president in 2006. His rise through ASCE began in the 1950s, inspired by Charles Yoder, an early employer who himself became ASCE president in 1974.
Graef co-founded Graef, Anhalt, Schloemer & Associates Inc., based in Milwaukee, in July 1961. The consulting firm that now calls itself Graef has eight offices in the Midwest and Florida. Before all this, he served in the U.S. Army and Reserves and then earned his master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
As ASCE’s president for 1998 he traveled extensively, with his wife Lorraine, representing civil engineering around the world. He also served as the U.S. engineering representative to the United Nations.
Graef was on the ASCE Foundation's first strategic planning committee, which established the foundation’s mission – “to generate resources for the civil engineering profession.” He was also one of the first to join the foundation’s Legacy Society, established to recognize those who make “future gifts” through estate planning to support the profession’s future.
Volunteer service was important to him. In addition to president, he also served ASCE throughout the years as vice president, director of the Wisconsin Section, and chair of ASCE’s Committee of Standards of Practice and Committee on Curricula and Accreditation. In his community, his service included the board of assessment of the city of Milwaukee – a five-term chair – and more than 10 years with St. Luke’s Hospital Association.
He was a scout master for the Boy Scouts of America for over 48 years, was highly active in his church, and continued traveling after his retirement in 2009.