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A LeTourneau Legend

Known for his colorful ties and powerful devotionals, Dr. Bill Graff has been a professor at LeTourneau for more than 40 years. Here is his story.

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Dr. Bill Graff


Leg-end-ar-y

Remarkable enough to be famous; very well known.

Synonyms- famous, celebrated, famed, renowned, acclaimed, illustrious, esteemed, honored, exalted, lauded, notable, noted, well known, distinguished, great, eminent, outstanding, remembered, unforgettable.

 

When people discuss the legacy of Dr. Bill Graff’s career as a professor at LeTourneau University, the word legendary is fitting. After more than 40 years as both a full-time and part-time faculty member, Graff is completely retiring from LETU. The difference he has made in student’s lives during his tenure is immeasurable.

 

Graff’s influence on his students’ lives stretches far beyond the four walls of a classroom. He has been more than just a valued teacher, but a mentor, a spiritual guide and a friend.  Several of his former students shared what he meant to them during their time at LeTourneau and even in their current lives.

 

How did Dr. Bill Graff impact your life?

 

He taught me not just electrical engineering, but he set an example as a man who made living out his Christian faith 24/7 in all aspects of his life an integral part of who he was.  He showed me that it’s okay to be "weird" in the world's eyes in regard to living for Jesus.  He and his beloved (wife) "Igliss" really went the extra mile to pour themselves into ministering to and mentoring students, regularly inviting us into their home. When students were struggling in class, he would often have some of us over in the evenings where he'd work example problems to help us climb the steep learning curve that's part of a solid engineering education.  More than anything else, he and Igliss showed LOVE for us.

-Victor Paul (’80, B.S. Engineering-Electrical Option)

 

Beeel (Bill) was not only one of my professors, but he was my Sunday school teacher at Pinewood Alliance Church and became a dear friend.  He welcomed students into his house on Sunday evenings, and we would sit around and sing psalms and praise songs, pray, and read God’s word. (His daughters) Misty and Marly were still home at that time, and they would join in the evening Bible study and prayer time.  Bill and Igliss counseled Rhonda, my fiancée, and me as we prepared for marriage and helped us through some rocky parts after we were married.

-Russell Davis (’85, B.S. Computer Science and Engineering)

 

Dr. Bill Graff impacted my life in a variety of ways. I was fortunate to be one of those students that he and Mrs. Graff chose to “adopt” and extend special friendship and hospitality to. I knew I was always welcome in their home. There was an unconditional love and acceptance that they poured out on me. It was particularly meaningful, as I was struggling to adapt to a new culture, having grown up abroad. Bill Graff invested in my life, modeling grace and helping me find assurance and security through a genuine dependence on God.

-David Russell (’82 B.S. Electrical Engineering)

 

Is there something that Dr. Graff taught you that you still use or remember today?

 

He did a devo one time on the "Two pot" vs "One pot" systems of viewing the world. Many people view the world as two separate pieces, the secular world where we work, play, drive, and spend a lot of life and the spiritual world where we meet and talk with God and seek his guidance on spiritual matters. The correct way to view the world, however, is as one piece, where our faith in God permeates everything we do, from praying over difficult work problems to discipling believers to studying for a test. God is not limited, and our faith shouldn't be either.

-Chris Mounce (’09, B.S. Computer Engineering, ’10, B.S. Electrical Engineering, ’11, M.S. Electrical Engineering)

 

He had an illustration he used in one of his devotions that I think of often. He would draw two sets of slanted intersecting lines to represent possible paths our lives can take. If we fail, we jump down to a lower line and can never get back up to a higher line, but all the lines are going in an upward direction, so we go upward no matter what. In a sense, our failures just delay our improvement. It’s a wonderful analogy of God’s grace.

-Bryan Johnson (’96, B.S. Engineering-Electrical Concentration)

 

There is no “leap of faith.” God will prove Himself to you in enough areas of your life that it will be only logical to trust Him in all areas. And, it’s fine to question God.  After all, He does have all the answers.

-Kevin Stoddard (’90, B.S. Electrical Engineering)

 

What is your favorite memory with Dr. Graff?

 

My favorite and cherished memory with Dr. Graff is the time he helped me understand a particular homework assignment/problem, and when the college professor/tutor part was over, he’d ask about life and let me ask questions. He offered to disciple me through the Book of John.

-Stanley Carlson (’83, B.S. Electrical Engineering)

 

My favorite memory with Dr. Graff is a summer that we spent together in Israel. It was the entire Graff family (both parents and three girls) plus five LeTourneau students. We assisted a technology company in Tiberias that had as its ultimate objective the development of fruitful disciples of the Lord Jesus. We experienced many new things together and developed bonds that have lasted a lifetime.

-David Russell

 

I fondly remember a photo of him being presented with a T-shirt at a senior banquet emblazoned with the phrase: "I FIGHT GRADE INFLATION!" And boy, was that the truth!  To his credit, Bill Graff never graded on the curve. You didn't pass his courses unless you had demonstrated that you had adequately comprehended (if not mastered) the material.  I went looking through my old yearbooks and found that photo on page 108 of the 1978 Pioneer yearbook.

-Victor Paul

 

If you could say something to Bill Graff about his impact on your life, what would that be?

 

Beel, you and Igliss have been a tremendous blessing on not only my life and Rhonda’s life, but also our children’s lives as we pass on things you have taught us, and they teach to their children. I know you have been a blessing to so many students that have passed through your classes and your Sunday night studies, and those blessing will continue to ripple down to future generations. Thank you, Jesus, for Bill and Igliss and thank you, Bill.

-Russell Davis

 

Thank you for encouraging and challenging me in engineering skills all the while weaving in a loving and mentoring father’s heart. Your love was reradiated from the Heavenly Father. A perfect and practical demonstration of the reciprocity theory.

-Stanley Carlson

 

Thank you, Bill, (and Igliss!) for pouring your lives into your students, even those who weren't taking engineering. You taught me not just how to do circuit analysis and find my way around a Smith chart, but you showed me how to grow in my faith and love others.

-Victor Paul

 

Thank you for your investment in my life. I am a better husband, a better father, a better human being than I ever would have been without your influence. Sorry (well, a little bit sorry, anyway) for beating the system in EE Lab.

-Kevin Stoddard

 

My main message to Bill Graff is that I can clearly see how the Lord brought him into my life around 41 years ago to help equip me for a fruitful career. Thank you for being available as God’s instrument back then, and for continuing to be part of my life ever since!

-David Russell

 

I thank the Lord for your love for Him, for His people, and for engineering His world. You have greatly impacted my walk as a faithful, thoughtful Christian.

-Bryan Johnson

 

Your investment in my life, through your teaching, your devotionals, and your marriage counseling have been incredible treasures to me that I will carry throughout my life. Your life has been and continues to be an inspiration to me and all who know you. I pray for all the best for you and Igliss, and once again, thank you for your investment in my life and that of so many others.

-Chris Mounce