Albert J. Graumlich; 1924-2013: Engineer captured world with his camera


Albert J. Graumlich, a retired automotive engineer and executive whose photographic interests spanned the world, died Monday in the University of Toledo Medical Center, the former Medical College of Ohio hospital. He was 89.

He was in declining health the last two weeks, said Eileen Rhine, a daughter-in-law. He and his wife, Nancy, moved from Sylvania to Swan Creek Retirement Village more than two years ago.

Mr. Graumlich retired in 1983. He’d been a vice president of engineering and a manager of advanced application engineering for the Prestolite Motor Division of the Eltra Corp. He had an “engineering brain,” Ms. Rhine said, and the field suited his personality. “He just had a great love of precision and detail,” she said.

Mr. Graumlich was treasurer of of Toledo Friends of Photography. He helped arrange workshops and lectures by acclaimed photographers, and he facilitated donations of photographs to the Toledo Museum of Art.

He took his first pictures with a Brownie camera and built a darkroom at his West Toledo childhood home. In retirement, as he and his wife traveled, he had more time for photography. There was the picture that got away in Kiev, when in 1986 they were on a trip to the Soviet Union. He noticed an unusual cloud from the hotel window, but his wife said he already had so many pictures, their daughter, Lisa, said. They were unaware that the Chernobyl nuclear plant accident had occurred 80 miles away. They were checked for radiation exposure in Leningrad before they could leave, they told The Blade upon their return. Officials in New York advised them to wash or dry clean their travel clothes.

The next year, they were visiting the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, Tibet, when they were spirited out because protesters had set a fire nearby, their daughter said. Outside, Mr. Graumlich took photos. They hid the film. The couple then showed the pictures around Ohio as they spoke of human rights violations in Tibet.

He was a founder of the Toledo Interfaith Justice and Peace Center and a member of Veterans for Peace. He and three other U.S. military veterans were arrested in October, 2002, outside the local offices of then-U.S. Sens. George Voinovich and Mike DeWine as they protested the impending U.S. war in Iraq. He pleaded guilty to criminal trespass and no contest to disorderly conduct charges.

He was born Aug. 20, 1924, to Myrtle and Elza Graumlich. His father was Toledo transit commissioner for more than 40 years. Mr. Graumlich graduated from DeVilbiss High School and Purdue University and served in the Navy during World War II. He was a member most recently of St. Michael’s in the Hills Episcopal Church.

Surviving are his wife, Nancy, whom he married June 14, 1947; sons, Raymond and John; daughter, Lisa Graumlich; sister, Marjorie McQueary, and three granddaughters.

Memorial services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday in Trinity Episcopal Church. Arrangements are by the Reeb Funeral Home. The family suggests tributes to the Toledo Museum of Art; a scholarship set up in his name at the University of Washington’s college of environment in Seattle, or a charity of the donor’s choice.

Staff writer David Patch contributed to this report.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: or 419-724-6182.