Funeral services have been scheduled at 11 a.m. Sunday, August 12 at Groman Eden Memorial Park, 11500 Sepulveda Boulevard in Mission Hills (at the corner of Sepulveda and Rinaldi).
Harry Gratz, World War II veteran and an advocate for local seniors and veterans, died Monday of natural causes. Gratz had celebrated his 94th birthday on July 20.
A week earlier, on July 12, Gratz was among the local military veterans honored at the Patriots Luncheon hosted by the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Born in 1918 and raised in Harlem in New York City, Gratz attended Marist High School in New Jersey. After World War II broke out, he joined the Army and trained at Ft. Dix, where he was assigned to the Signal Corps. Between 1941-1945, Gratz was stationed in Casablanca, among other places.
Gratz recently recalled one wartime experience when he and his troops were assigned to protect a monastery while the Germans were bombing it. During the fray, both his legs were injured. While in the hospital, he also picked up malaria, but eventually made a full recovery. For his combat service, Gratz was awarded two Purple Hearts and an honorable discharge.
After the war, Gratz returned to the States, married in 1956, and had twin daughters, Susan and Janet. Harry and his wife Blossom were married almost 50 years. Both enjoyed volunteering at the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center in their later years, until she died in 2004 from Alzheimer’s disease.
Gratz remained active at the SCV Senior Center (he was one of the center’s champion pool players, and played on its Wii bowling team), and became an outspoken advocate for Alzheimer’s research toward finding a cure for the disease.
Also a voice for disabled veterans, Gratz was a co-founder of Veterans Historical Plaza in Newhall, a permanent tribute to local veterans of all wars.