Obituaries detail

Keith Gerhart Grafing

March 23, 1942 - September 28, 2021


Keith Gerhart Grafing, son of Gerhart and Wilhelmine “Minnie” (Knittel) Grafing, was born on March 23, 1942, in Hibbing, Minnesota. He showed an interest in music when very young, discovering that he could generate different notes by striking radiator pipes while dressed similarly to the organist at church.  He played percussion in his high school band and performed on piano on special occasions, including dinner parties hosted by the parents of Bob Dylan, a fellow high school student.  Keith graduated from Hibbing High School in 1960, Hibbing Junior College in 1962, and Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas in 1964, obtaining a Bachelor of Music degree.  At Bethany he met Edith Ione “Edie” Miessler; they were married in Hibbing on December 22, 1964.


Keith continued his education at University of Missouri, Kansas City, where he obtained an M.M. in Music History and Literature, D.M.A. in Piano Performance, and M.S. and Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration. He was awarded a fellowship from Kansas City Association of Trusts and Foundations.  His Ph.D. dissertation was titled “A Comparison of American and Foreign Student Cultural Values at a Multicampus University.”  Keith taught public school for one year in Winona, MN, and in higher education at St. Paul’s College in Concordia, MO; Concordia College in Milwaukee, WI; and Penn Valley Community College in Kansas City, MO.  He served as Director of Music, Organist, and Choirmaster at Trinity Lutheran Church, Mission, KS.  He was Assistant Director and Interim Director of International Student Affairs at UMKC until his retirement.  Together with wife, Edie, he worked in supportive roles with countless international students, going out of his way to serve them far beyond his official duties; many considered Keith and Edie their American parents, and in turn Keith and Edie thought of them as their international children.  Keith was selected for inclusion in the International Who’s Who in Music in 1976, and in 1987 he was honored with the Presidential Citation Service Award by the University of Missouri. 


Keith, together with Edie, was a generous supporter of a wide variety of community organizations and volunteered to serve on numerous boards and committees at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Parkway Towers Condominium, and the broader Kansas City area. Even past retirement, he continued his interest in activities of the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance Alumni Association by serving on one of its committees.  At Saint Luke’s Hospital, Keith contributed much of his time and energy as a Volunteer in the Emergency Department; he served with the Hospital Auxiliary and on the Auxiliary’s Board; and he was pianist at the Chapel for Sunday and Wednesday services and monthly memorial services.  He had broad interests in the fine arts, especially music, art, theater, and ballet, and he enjoyed bridge, NPR, PBS, Bedlington terriers, and mint chip ice cream.  He also liked to spend time in New England enjoying the autumn display of color.


Keith was widely respected and loved.  He passed away after a short illness on September 28, 2021, at Bishop Spencer Place in Kansas City at the age of 79.  He was preceded in death by his parents and brother-in-law Jack D. Brokaw.  He is survived by his wife, Edith, his sister Lowanne Brokaw, Lowanne’s children and extended family, and brother-in-law Reinhold Miessler III.


Burial Office and Holy Eucharist will be October 13, 2021 at 2:30 p.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 11 E. 40th St., Kansas City, MO.


In lieu of flowers, donations are suggested to St. Luke’s Foundation, 901 E. 104th St, Kansas City, MO 64131; and the Haiti Project, c/o St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

Additional Service:
Memorial Service
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
11 E. 40th St.
Kansas City
Zip Code:
Date of Service:
Oct 13 ,2021
Time of Service:
2:30 pm
Additional Information:
No Additional Information Added
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dick hopkins Oct 12 ,2021

friends ,Overland Park ,Kansas

Eddie, so sorry to hear that you lost Keith recently. Our mutual friend Mark Jeske informs me. Keith as we all remember was very talented and Trinity was the recipient of his talent for a number of years. I remember them well. My wife Susan's thoughts are also with you as she remembers Keith's activities within UMKC's alumni affairs. While he will be missed those memories are lasting. God's blessings to you as Keith now lives in his saviors arms. Dick Hopkins