Trust the Torch!

Russell Shane Graff, 54

Russell Shane Graff, 54, of Capron, was put into God’s hands as an angel on Saturday, July 16, 2022, at Javon Bea Hospital, Rockford.

Born Feb. 23, 1968, to Rita (Gurtowski) and Al Graff in Woodstock, Russ was the loving husband of Hollis (Holly) Piquette Graff and father to daughters Reaganne and Addison (Addie). Russ and Holly were married on May 23, 2003, when his father, Al, with whom Russ shared a special relationship, served as his best man. He and Holly were “tied at the hip,” and he was the biggest supporter of his girls in their schooling and interests. Russ was always there to cheer them on.

Russ was a valued colleague at American Ad Bag, where he worked for nearly 16 years. His entire work career was primarily in the printing industry. 

The Chicago White Sox, Chicago Blackhawks, and the Chicago Bears all made Russ happy, even when they made him mad. He was so excited when the White Sox won the World Series in 2005. He also had a passion for anything to do with motorcycles. In his younger days, he raced his FZ 400 Yamaha at Road America in Elkhart, Wis., and Blackhawk Farms Raceway in South Beloit, Ill. Russ loved raising tropical fish, sitting and enjoying the flowers he planted in their yard, and feeding and watching the birds with his wife, a love he inherited from his mother, Rita.

As the last of seven kids, Russ was the baby of the family. His mom always joked that not many mothers had both a child and a grandchild in the same elementary school at the same time. Growing up, Russ loved living on the small family farm in Wonder Lake, fondly referred to as the Polish Ponderosa by his mom. Many days were spent playing up in the haymow and making tunnels out of bales and swinging on the ropes from beam to beam. Neighborhood baseball games and nighttime Big Black Bear games filled his summer days. 

Russ stood proudly behind his beliefs. He was a kind and compassionate man who would help anyone in need. Holly shared that just two weeks ago they spotted a woman sitting on the side of the road, and Russ immediately stopped to see if she needed help. The woman said no and pointed to the tree where a bald eagle sat. Touched by his concern for the well-being of a stranger, she thanked him for stopping.

When asked what their favorite thing about their father was, Reaganne shared how “he would do anything for the people he loved” and was always there to support her in everything she and her sister did. Daughter Addie said she loved her dad’s smile and laugh. Holly loved his gentle voice, his smile, his patience with her, and his love for his daughters. Russ was everything they could have asked for in a husband and father.

Survivors include his wife, Hollis Piquette Graff; daughters, Reaganne and Addison; grandmother-in-law, Audrey Rollins; mother-in-law, Kim (Matt) Stahl; father-in-law, Jed (Kim) Piquette; siblings, Karin (Jim) McGrath, Jerry (Judy) Graff, Susan Larson, Ken (Jo) Graff, Dan Graff (Linda), and Denise (Jim) Graff Ponstein; brother-in-law, Jeremy Piquette; sisters-in-law, Brittnie (Chris) Kirkpatrick, Jessie Piquette, Dallas Piquette, and Maddison Piquette; brother-in-law, Matthew (Emily) Stahl Piquette; and sister-in-law, Bridgitte (Clayton) Wesorick. 

He is preceded in death by his parents.

A celebration of life will be from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, July 23, at Woodstock Moose Lodge, 406 Clay St.

The family requests that you wear one of his favorite sports teams’ shirt or jersey – but definitely no Cubs shirts will be allowed.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the family or the charity of your choice.

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