Daniel De Graaf ’53

Daniel Lee De Graaf (89) passed away peacefully on June 14, 2021 at Resthaven Care Center in Holland, Michigan. He was born in Holland on January 22, 1932, to Clarence and Marie (Coppers) De Graaf and married Myra Saunders on August 16, 1956. He is survived by his sister Ruth Dirkse of Holland, a daughter and two sons: Jana (Tom) Cathey of Grand Rapids, Tom (Bethany) De Graaf of Holland, Tad (Andrea) De Graaf of Saugatuck, as well as six grandchildren.

Dan attended Holland Christian Schools and Hope College, graduating in 1954. He then went on to the University of Michigan for his master’s degree. He served overseas in the US Navy from 1954-1956. He taught abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland, and enjoyed traveling through Europe with his wife, family, and friends. In 1956, he founded the Tadlow Gallery in Whitehall, Michigan, while teaching English and serving as Director of Fine Arts at Muskegon Community College. In 1972, he purchased the Forsythe Gallery in Ann Arbor, eventually establishing DeGraaf Forsythe Galleries as Michigan’s oldest continually operating private art gallery. With previous branches in Chicago and West Palm Beach, the current location in Saugatuck (Armstrong/De Graaf International Fine Art) is now celebrating over 75 years in business. Dan had a passion for connecting people with art, educating the public in how to discerningly look at each artist’s work and demonstrating how it could enhance a person’s life as part of their everyday environment.


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