Born in Bluffton, Ohio on July 9, 1924, son of Leonard and Pearl Moser Gratz, James L. Gratz died February 3, 2017 in North Manchester.
He grew up on a farm, was confirmed in the Evangelical & Reformed Church, and graduated from Bluffton High School in 1943. Jim served in the Naval Pacific fleet during WWII. He returned to Bluffton where he married Jane L. Howe in Dec. 1946 and graduated from Bluffton College in 1950. He earned two master’s degrees from Indiana University, while beginning a career of teaching and coaching at Ohio high schools in Anna, Spencerville, and Pandora.
From 1954-62, Jim taught social studies, was athletic director and coached at Avon Lake in suburban Cleveland, where his football teams excelled. During those years, he was an active officer in the Naval Reserve, worked various summer jobs to support his family, and was a hero to his children and their neighborhood friends.
Moving to Manchester College in 1962, he taught in the physical education department, served as athletic director, and coached baseball, football and wrestling. For several years, he supervised the North Manchester summer recreation programs. He was inducted into the athletic halls of fame at Avon Lake and Pandora High Schools in Ohio, Bluffton College and Manchester College.
Following retirement from Manchester, he continued to live in North Manchester, serving the community on the boards of the Manchester Symphony Society, Shepherd’s Center and the Child Care Center. He was a member of the Manchester Church of the Brethren. Jim enjoyed following Manchester athletics and was a passionate tennis player, swimmer and bicyclist. He was a loving coach and mentor to his grandchildren.
His family includes wife Jane of North Manchester; sons: Reed (Udit) of Pomona, Calif.; Randy (Chib) and Robin (Francine), both of Columbus; and daughter, Wendy (Lew Borman) of Chapel Hill, N.C.; eight grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at the Manchester Church of the Brethren at 11 a.m. Monday, Feb. 6.
Memorial contributions may be made to the following: Manchester University Spartan Athletics; Manchester Church of the Brethren; Wilbur and Elfriede Howe Scholarship, Bluffton University, Bluffton, Ohio.