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Subject: Henry Franklin Graff, Professor Henry Graff, distinguished Columbia University Professor, and noted American historian and Presidential biographer, dies at 98. ...

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Date Posted: Tuesday, May 05, 06:22:50am

Henry Franklin Graff, Professor Henry Graff, distinguished Columbia University
Professor, and noted American historian and Presidential biographer, dies at 98.

Henry Franklin Graff, Professor Henry Graff, distinguished American historian and Columbia University Professor, passed away peacefully on April 7, 2020 at the age of 98. He was the beloved husband of Edith (Krantz) Graff, who predeceased him in 2019, for almost 73 years. He was the son of Samuel and Florence (Morris) Graff. His twin sister Myra (Graff) Balber predeceased him. He served on the faculty of Columbia University from 1946 to 1991, including for a period as the Chairman of the History Department. He specialized in the history of the Presidency of the United States and American foreign relations. Known to many U.S. Presidents, his pioneering "Seminar on the Presidency," one of Columbia's most popular courses, was attended by Presidents Truman and Ford. He wrote The Tuesday Cabinet, an acclaimed account of the Administration of President Lyndon Johnson, whom he knew well. In 1965, President Johnson appointed him to the National Historical Publications Commission and, in 1993, President Clinton appointed him to the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Review Board, about which he was quoted in the media as recently as 2017. In 2005, he received an honorary doctor of letters degree from Columbia in recognition of his contributions to the field of American history, service to Presidents and to the University. A great story-teller, he brought history to life for generations of students. He received Columbia's Great Teacher Award and the Mark Van Doren Award, for distinguished teaching and scholarship. Over the course of his career, he wrote more than a dozen books, including several widely used textbooks. He co-authored The Modern Researcher with fellow Columbia Professor Jacques Barzun, a classic work on research and editing, which had six editions over nearly 50 years, and wrote extensively for leading news magazines and journals. He also served as a historical consultant to multiple media outlets, appearing regularly on television and the radio. He twice served as Chairman of the Pulitzer Prize jury in American history. Before teaching at Columbia, he enlisted in the Army serving as a Japanese language officer and cryptanalyst in the Signal Intelligence Service, reading foreign codes and ciphers. Their work was known to have shortened the war. In what he always regarded his proudest achievement, he translated a message from the Japanese Ambassador to Germany recounting German preparations in North France to repel the expected invasion, which proved invaluable to Allied planners in England. He received a War Department Citation and the Army Commendation Medal for his service. He attended City College of New York, where he received a B.S.S. degree, magna cum laude, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He received M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Columbia. Henry led a wonderful life with Edith, building their family, taking part in countless University events and traveling the world. Chief among his wide-ranging accomplishments was being a deeply devoted father to Iris Morse (Andrew) and Ellen Graff (Martin Fox), a wonderful grandfather to Molly Rothstein (Randy) and Elizabeth Rohtbart (Daniel), Marshall Fox (Talya Lazerus), Nathaniel Fox (Zoelle), and Sarah Graff Fox, and an adored great-grandfather of Charles and William Rohtbart, Maxwell and Caroline Rothstein and Aryeh Fox. At The Osborn, skilled and compassionate staff always made him feel comfortable and Agnes Opoku and Cheryl Brown provided devoted care. Throughout his life, Henry loved baseball, chocolate and Columbia. His winning personality touched everyone he met. He will be deeply missed. Burial will be private. A Memorial Service will be held at a later date. For donations, please contact Regina Ketting at Columbia University at regina.ketting@columbia. edu.


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