Donald F. "Blackie’ Graber

Donald F. "Blackie’ Graber, age 85, of West Bend, died Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2006 at his residence. He was born Jan. 13, 1921 in Rockford, Ill. to the late John and Frances (nee Costella) Graber and married Marie Bauer (nee Wolf) at Holy Angels Church.

After high school, Blackie entered the U.S. Army, serving as a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne. On D-Day, June 6, 1944, he jumped into Normandy, France with his unit. During WWII he was captured numerous times by the Germans and was able to escape each time. He was awarded three Purple Hearts, the Combat Infantry Badge and many other awards during his service in the war. Blackie was a frequent guest speaker at the high schools in the area and very well known for his stories and recollection of the war. After the war he began making annual hunting trips to Wyoming and had done so for 61 consecutive years.

Blackie was a member of the Fred A. Schaefer V.F.W. post 1393 in West Bend, the Clarence Beltman Chapter of the Ex-POW's and a long time volunteer at the Clement J. Zablocki V.A. Hospital in Milwaukee with thousands of hours of service.

Survivors include his wife Marie, daughter Anne (Bob) Bell of The Villages, Fla., two granddaughters: Michelle (Richard) Ferraro and Cherryl (Gary) Hendricks and four great-grandsons: Sean, Ian, Nicholas and Adam. He is further survived by two sisters: Catherine Fischer and Henrietta Schiller, his brother David (Glory) Burke, his sister-in-law Esther Vrana and nieces, nephews and other relatives and friends.

Blackie was preceded in death by his brother Ralph Graber.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Tuesday, Sept. 19 at 7 p.m. at St. Mary's Immaculate Conception Church in West Bend with Rev. Patrick Wendt presiding. Burial will be Wed. in St. Mary's Cemetery Visitation will be Tuesday, at the church only from 4 p.m. until 6:45 p.m. Masses or memorials to the Clement J. Zablocki V.A. Hospital or St. Jude Hospital are appreciated.

Blackie's family would like to thank and acknowledge all of his friends and ex-POWs for their friendship and companionship. We would like to also extend our sincere gratitude to all at the V.A. Hospital for the change given to him to help his fellow soldiers.