This morning I send this query to Rachel Lilley, Public Services Archivist, “Who’s Graf? Walking challenge.”
Here’s what she found!
Designed by architect John Bennes, Graf Hall was completed in 1920 for a total cost of $134,933 (it would have costed $1,729,766 today); it originally included a materials lab, a hydraulics lab, and a steam and gas engine lab, all served by a 5-ton electric crane. Samuel Herman Graf, for whom Graf Hall is named, was born in Portland, Oregon – technically speaking, Bethany, Oregon, a small community northwest of Portland – August 4th, 1887 to Samuel Graf and Emilie W. Schlueter Graf.
Graf matriculated at Oregon Agricultural College (OAC) in 1903 to study engineering, graduating with his first degree – in Electrical Engineering – in 1907. He would go on to complete four more degrees at OAC: a post-baccalaureate degree in Electrical Engineering, and a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, both in 1908; a Master of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering in 1909; and a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering, also in 1909. Between 1909 and 1954, Graf held several faculty positions in Engineering at Oregon State, beginning as an Assistant in Mechanical Engineering in 1908 while still taking classes. From 1909 to 1912, he was an instructor in Mechanical Engineering; from 1912 to 1920, he was the head of Experimental Engineering; he served as head of the Department of Mechanics and Materials from 1920 to 1934, and of the Department of Mechanical Engineering from 1934 to 1954. Graf additionally served as Director of Engineering Research from 1928 to 1944, and the Director of the Engineering Experiment Station from 1944 to 1954.
Not long after graduating from OAC, Graf married his first wife; the couple had two sons, Thomas (1913) and Ralf (1915). After his first wife’s death, Graf married Blanche Ann Edlefsen, and the couple had two children, Therese and Samuel, together. Blanche died April 28, 1952, and Graf remarried a third and final time (Violet).
In addition to his teaching and research, Graf served as American Society of Mechanical Engineers(ASME) chapter representative for all states west of Colorado, and later served as the Western Regional Vice President of ASME. Graf was a member of the State Board of Engineering Examiners for 22 years, and served as the Board’s President from 1939 to 1949. In 1949, Graf was named an honorary member of the Professional Engineers of Oregon, an honor conferred to those members of the society whose “achievements and service to engineering have been outstanding.” In 1955, Graf was chosen to serve on the Board of Trustees for Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon; the science building at Linfield – also Graf Hall – was later named in his honor.
Samuel Graf died July 22, 1966 following a stroke.