Ralph E. Gravemann, 85, of Alton, passed away at 9:45 a.m. Saturday, May 2, 2015, at his residence.
He was born in rural New Melle, Mo., Feb. 22, 1930, the son of Edward and Laura (Ludwig) Graveman.
On July 31, 1950, he and Margaret Joyce eloped to Pocahontas, Ark. She survives.
Ralph served in the Army National Guard, where he began his lifelong career in photography. When he was discharged from the military, he pursued his dream of owning his own business and Gravemann Photography was started in his home. In 1955, the business moved to a location on Milton Road in Alton. Following a fire that severely damaged the Milton Road location in 1970, Ralph designed, built and decorated the Gravemann Building at its current location, 626 Lewis & Clark Blvd., in 1971. As the business grew his wife, his brother, sister and brother-in-law Lester Joyce joined him. His son Kevin has been involved in the business since his teens and continues to maintain the quality in the business that his father loved. Over 62 years, Ralph truly enjoyed talking to and working with his customers and was honored to serve them.
He excelled in his field, receiving recognition and awards from professional photography associations, both in Illinois and nationally. He was innovative, starting color photography and videotaping weddings before the majority of his peers. Based on the high quality of his work, he was awarded the title of Master of Photography in 1969, followed by the selective award, “Master Craftsman.”
His interests weren’t limited to photography. He was an original investor in the Lewis & Clark Movie Theater (originally known as the Jerry Lewis Theater). His interest in travel led to a partnership in Omni Travel Ltd. for 20 years. He and his wife enjoyed travel throughout many countries, went on many cruises and multiple visits to Jamaica, Hawaii and Florida.
In addition to his wife, Ralph is survived by three children: Pam (Mike) Manion of O’Fallon, Mo., Kevin (Rhonda) Gravemann of Rosewood Heights and Lisa Pluhar of Bethalto. Ralph also had two grandsons who he was so proud of: Justin Manion of O’Fallon, Mo., and Eddie Pluhar of Columbia, Mo. Also surviving are a sister and brother, Ruth Long of Alton and Ed (Janet) Graveman of Alton. He was preceded in death by both of his parents. He was loved and will be missed by many.
Visitation will be from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. Monday, May 4, 2015, at Elias, Kallal and Schaaf Funeral Home in Alton. A memorial service will be held at Elias, Kallal and Schaaf at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 5. The Rev. Willard Meyer will officiate.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., through www.mayoclinic.org, a nonprofit health care facility that provided him with excellent care in the last year of his life.