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Veteran and activist Harry Gratz, 94, dies Monday night

Posted: August 9, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 9, 2012 2:00 a.m.

2012 California Senior Wii Bowling Champion teammates look on as bowler Harry Gratz uses the Wii controller as the team practices at the SCV Senior Center on May 17.

 

Harry Gratz, a World War II veteran and longtime Santa Clarita Valley activist, died of natural causes in his sleep Monday. He was 94.


Gratz, an Army private, was honorably discharged after receiving shrapnel in his leg in the European Theater during World War II, according to his daughter Susan.


His experiences in combat earned him two Purple Hearts. It was also these experiences that drove him to become a voice for veterans, she said.


“He would never talk about his service,” said Janet Gratz, Susan’s twin sister. “He would just say, ‘War is hell.’ He wanted all veterans to have representation.”


He was, however, vocal about his advocacy for causes, said Kathy Crone, executive director for the SCV Senior Center Foundation. The foundation is the fundraising arm of the local senior center where Gratz spent much of his time.


“He was instrumental in the Veterans Historical Plaza and getting that place built,” Crone said. “He was a huge advocate for veterans’ rights and making sure that their voice was heard.”


Santa Clarita City Councilwoman Laurene Weste said Gratz was a longtime friend and a strong supporter of the efforts to build Veterans Historical Plaza.


“He was one of the most concerned men about veterans I ever met, and he really, really had compassion for his fellow veterans,” Weste said.


“He was passionate and he stayed on what he believed in. He was a really great American.”


Gratz, a Canyon Country resident, frequently wrote letters to newspapers throughout Southern California seeking to affect change for his three favorite causes: elderly care, veterans and Alzheimer’s.


“Anybody who would listen, he would send something to,” Crone said.


He was a frequent contributor to The Signal’s letters to the editor.


Gratz took care of his wife, Blossom, after she came down with Alzheimer’s. The couple married in 1956. She died in 2004.


Gratz’s family has not yet set funeral arrangements. Anyone with questions about the service may email his daughter at Janetgratz@gmail.com.

 

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