Robert B. Gratz (Sign Guestbook)

Robert Bearden Gratz, age 73, expert on living life, passed away on December 28, 2017 from cancer.

He was born in Morristown, Tennessee to the late James and Josephine Gratz. As a young child he joined the Boys Scouts and has the distinction of being the youngest boy in Morristown to be designated Eagle Scout, an honor he remained proud of throughout his life. He attended Morristown High School where he played football and was selected to the All East Tennessee All-Star Football Team.

At The University of Tennessee he was a scholarship athlete and served as alternate captain of the football team that defeated Tulsa in the 1965 season Bluebonnet Bowl. During this time he also served as the President of Fellowship of Christian Athletes. As a graduate student at UT he continued active with the football team as graduate assistant coach. It was at this time that Bobby received a direct commission from the United States Army and fulfilled his service as a football coach at West Point. Following his service, he returned to UT to complete his Master’s Degree in Education.

Bobby then began what became a long career in education. As a coach, teacher, or administrator, he worked in virtually every feeder system in the city and county, specifically Bearden High, Powell High, Doyle High, Carter Middle, Gresham Middle, South Doyle Middle, Holston Middle, and Halls Middle, as well as Webb School. He retired from Knox County Schools in 2006 as Director of Middle Schools. In retirement Bobby continued to teach and mentor prospective teachers at South College and Carson-Newman College.   His extra-professional service to education includes SACS evaluator, Career Ladder evaluator, and President of Tennessee Association of Middle Schools.

In his private life he was a prolific poet, an avid journaler and artist, an accomplished woodworker, and a lover of all music particularly the “gang scenes” in opera. He remained active in sports through participation in Senior Olympics and was a multi-medalist.

At the time of his death, Bobby was on the T Club Letterman’s Board and a member of Fountain City United Methodist Church.

He is survived by his wife, Brenda Gratz; daughter Stephanie Conner, her husband Tim, and their daughters Emily and Erin; brother Ron Gratz, his wife Dot; sister Becky Hickman, her husband Thomas; and nephews Alan Gratz, John Gratz, and Kevin Spiller; children by marriage Krista Wright and Kendall Marine, Krista’s husband John and son Ian Clarke, and Kendall’s wife Sandy and their sons Alex Dailey and Adam Marine.

The family will receive friends at Fountain City United Methodist Church on Friday, January 5, 2018 from 5 – 7 PM with a Celebration of Life Service to follow at 7:00. Dr. Randy Frye, Rev. Amy Aycock, and Rev. Bill Kilday will officiate. In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to the University of Tennessee Bobby Gratz Athletic Scholarship c/o Nate Warren, Director of Annual Giving, University of Tennessee, Brenda Lawson Athletic Complex, 1551 Lake Loudon Blvd, Knoxville, TN 37996 or Fountain City United Methodist Chancel Choir, 212 Hotel Road, Knoxville, TN 37918. Gentry Griffey Funeral Chapel is honored to serve the Gratz family and invites you to sign their online guestbook below.


46 guestbook entries for “Robert B. Gratz”:

  1. Alverna Naill says:

    Brenda and family, I am so sorry to hear the passing of Bobby.He was such a joy to work with after the death of Mr Jim Ivey at Halls Middle. That was a hard job for him to undertake,but he did a wonderful job and was respected by all the teachers and staff.He was a good friend and made my job there so enjoyable knowing he was behind you in your endeavors to do my job as the Halls middle /High Cafeteria Manager. Lovingly sent Alverna and Ed Naill

  2. Teresa Parker says:

    Brenda, I am so sorry for your loss. Bobby was one of the first principals I ever worked for as a school social worker. He ran an excellent school and let you know that he also expected excellence from his staff. I learned he didn’t expect anymore from his staff than what he expected of himself

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

    Teresa Parker

  3. Sandy White says:

    Please accept our heartfelt sympathy
    as your family and friends celebrate Bobby’s life. He certainly made a mark in our world.

    Robert and Sandy White
    Friends of Rebecca and Thomas Hickman and family
    Lynnville, TN

  4. Earleen Thompson Sides says:

    Brenda, I have never met you personally, but knew Bobby, Ronnie and Becky during my years at Morristown High School. I have followed Bobby’s battle through Becky’s posts on facebook, and have the utmost admiration for your entire family. May your wonderful memories sustain you through the days, months and years to follow without Bobby at your side. My prayers and best thoughts are with your family.

  5. Charlene Becker says:

    Bobby was a delight to know as a friend and an inspiration as a work colleague. The teachers under his supervision as Director of the Distinguished Professional Program shared sadness when they learned of his illness and need to leave the DPEI program to fight a strong fight against this dreadful enemy. They never stopped asking when he would return. He remains in our thoughts with fondness and admiration for the fine man he was.

  6. LIBBY HALE LUM says:

    Bobby will be greatly missed by anyone who knew him. He was a high achiever and a huge bundle of talent, personality and fun. I enjoyed knowing him and considered him a forever friend. May God bless his family until they meet again…praying for peace and comfort for them as they morn this man who was larger than life in their hearts. RIP MY FRIEND❣️TILL WE MEET AGAIN.

  7. Carolyn winn says:

    Praying for family

  8. Rebecca McCrory says:

    I have been proud to have known Bobby since childhood and proud of the gifts he gave to the community over the years. So special!

  9. Kim Isenberg says:


    My sincere condolences to you and your family. May your fondest memories bring you some peace. Sending prayers of comfort and love.

  10. Dawn Shubert says:

    Brenda my heart hurts for you! Always loved Bobby! I am thinking of you with prayers.

  11. June and Wayne Conner says:

    You are in our prayers

  12. Janice Williams says:

    Brenda so sad to hear of his passing. He was a warrior and fought a good fight. As he is at peace I pray for you to find peace and hope that this is not the end. We will see him again. Love you
    Kent and Janice Williams

  13. Phil Duncan says:

    A man of wide interests and many talents who had much professional and personal impact. I am grateful for the chance I had to work with “Coach Bob” when I was a young’un at Webb.

    Phil Duncan
    Webb School ‘75

  14. Bill and Robin Bell says:

    Dear Brenda and other family, we considered Bobby a colleague, friend, and an administrator. He was good natured with an innate sense of fun and caring. I hope good memories of time spent with him will bring you some comfort during this time of loss. He was loved and respected by many, and it doesn’t get better than that. Love, Bill and Robin Bell

  15. Mark Dore says:

    I’m very sorry to hear about the passing of “Coach Bob.” My thoughts & prayers go out to the entire Gratz family. Both he & Ron had a tremendous effect on my H.S. days at Webb School. Some of my most enduring memories took place on the Spartan’s football field. Coach Bob practiced us like he was still w/ the Vols (#62) or just coming out of Army! (-: Either one, he helped us in so many ways. I’m certainly fortunate to have known him and know he is in a much better place now. God Bless…

  16. Dennis Wolfe says:

    I am so sorry to hear of the passing of my dear friend Bobby Gratz. I worked with him at Knox County Schools. Bobby was also on the U.T.K. Lettermens board with me. May God be with you and comfort you at this time. Bobby is having a little talk with Jesus right now.

  17. Rebecca Greenfield-Henson says:

    My condolences to the family. God Bless you y’all.

    Friends of Rebecca Hickman

    La Vergne, Tn

  18. Danny and Sheila Thompson says:

    Stephanie and family, we are so sorry to hear of your dad’s death. We loved having you all as our neighbors and seeing him over the years at UT football games.

  19. Mary Ann Blank says:

    Love to Brenda and family. Bobby was such a wonderful human being and outstanding educator. I always knew it was going to be a good professional development experience when you and Bobby were participants. Sharing was a big part of what Bobby did. He will be missed by so many. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  20. Eleanor Hayes says:

    Dear Brenda,

    I was so sad to learn of Bobby’s passing.
    I have so many fun memories of our time spent traveling across the state for TAMS. He truly lived every day to the fullest. You and your family will be in my prayers during the coming months.

  21. Atwell Gray says:

    My father played with Bobby at UT and I vividly remember him and his family visiting us in GA and us visiting them in TN when I was a child. He took me to my first UT game vs GT in 1979. He made sure I had some UT gear and even game me one of his books. My prayers and condolences to all the family.

  22. Deanna Smallman says:

    . . . it brought tears to my eyes when I learned of Bobby’s demise . . . I and my sister Jean Ann are friends to his sister, Becky (MHS – Morristown TN . . . our high school days . . . Jean Ann was captain of the cheerleaders her senior year and Becky shared with us a wonderful photo from those days . . . she was a cheerleader, too). . . I followed Bobby’s journey during his battle with cancer through my connection with Becky on Facebook . . . His life inspired me so much as I am a Breast Cancer Survivor . . . He definitely was an expert on living life and impacted the lives of so many people . . . he will be missed . . . whispering a prayer for his beautiful family and all their friends and other loved ones.

  23. Andy & LaDonna Butts says:

    Brenda, no words can express the love and prayers that LaDonna and I are sending to you and the family at this time. We are truly blessed and so much the better for knowing him. We are so thankful that we had the opportunity to spend Football Time in Tennessee for the last 20+ years sitting in Neyland with you and Bobby. It was always such a great joy to climb those stairs and see Bobby’s smiling face. Know that in our hearts and mind’s eye, we will always see Bobby’s happy grin as we climb those stairs. Wrapping you and the family with all our love and prayers.

  24. Phil Kronk says:

    My prayers and condolences to you and your family. As a psychologist, I was proud to say I worked with Bobby for so many years. He was the “coolest” administrator that God created, with a love of life, and of teaching students and guiding men and women, who served under him.
    When I looked to the heavens tonight, I will see his bright star shining.
    Phil Kronk

  25. Vic Dingus says:

    Coach Bobby Gratz was a positive coach and helpful during my freshman year at UT in 1966. I enjoyed our friendship in his leadership of the UT Letterman’s Club. He made a difference in people’s lives and fought the good fight and finished strong. Blessings to the family in high remembrance of his life.

  26. Doris Darden says:

    Mom and I am so sorry to hear of Bobby’s passing, and send out sympathy and prayers to you and your family. Every picture I saw of you two together you both were always smiling and so happy together. Love , Edna Grigsby and Doris, Maurice

  27. Marianne Greene says:

    I am so proud to own a couple of Bobby’s woodworking items auctioned off at the Halls Cross Roads dinner/auction thru the years. They have always and will continue to mean so much to me. It was such a pleasure to know and work with you both.

    Marianne Greene
    The Foundry

  28. Mike Hueser says:

    Brenda and the entire Bobby Gratz family is in my thoughts and prayers.

  29. Rick Horner says:

    Brenda, You and Bobby were such great neighbors and were always full of life and love. Thank you for always being willing to share with your family of friends.
    Ray Gentry and Rick Horner

  30. Lori Skaggs says:

    My deepest sympathy to all of Bobby’s family. “Mr. Gratz” was my principal at Halls Middle School where I worked as a school counselor in the mid-90’s. I remember him as being a lot of fun, and very supportive in helping me plan a school-wide memorial service for Jim Ivey. When I got an interview for my “dream job” at Oak Ridge High School, I remember Mr. Gratz gave me a wonderful recommendation and told me he would never want to hold me back in my career. I remember him fondly!

  31. Cassandra Prysork says:

    Please accept my condolences. My prayers and thoughts are with you. Sandy Prysork. DPEI family.

  32. Tim Parker says:

    Met Bobby years ago when we lived in the same neighborhood. What a great guy! RIP

  33. Dana Fisher says:

    To all family members of Bobby, a caring, considerate man: He had a heart of love for people and could converse with anyone regarding any number of topics. My late husband, Buddy Fisher loved Bobby; had so much respect and admiration for him. God be with each of you as you grieve for the loss of “a good guy.” Heaven welcomed him with open arms but he will be missed on this earth!

    Mrs. Buddy Fisher (Dana)

  34. Wendi Neal says:

    I am sorry to hear of his passing. He was my principal when I was in Carter Middle. I respected him and he was a good man. May God be with you and your family.


  35. Anthony & Paula Hancock says:

    To the family of our Beloved Brother Bobby

    “But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them that fall asleep; that ye sorrow not, even as the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also that are fallen asleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we that are alive, that are left unto the coming of the Lord, shall in no wise precede them that are fallen asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”
    ‭‭. 1 Thessalonians‬ ‭4:13-18‬ ‭

    Family in our prayers during this time

    Love, Anthony & Paula

  36. Ginni Foust says:

    Thoughts, prayers, & hugs!

  37. Ginni Foust says:

    Thoughts, prayers, hugs!

  38. Jack L Kile says:

    I will miss Bobby as so many others will. We go back to the 60s when he played football for UT and I was an Assistant Coach at the time. Then we have served on the UT T-Club Board for several years. He was always a great contributor and leader in whatever he did. He made so many lives better by just being “Bobby.” Peace be with you, Brenda, and all your family.

  39. Pam Wiggins says:

    Brenda and family,
    Our thoughts and prayers go out to you during this time. Though we only knew Bobby for a short time, he made a large impression on us. He will be missed in YY9. We were blessed to have gotten to know him through UT football. I was impressed by his obituary, I did not know that he served his country as well. His service is and was greatly appreciated. Saturdays in Neyland won’t be the same without him.
    Pam, Paul and Paula Wiggins, Row 22 YY9

  40. Zulette and John Melnick says:

    Brenda and family, we are so sorry for your loss. You will be in our thoughts and prayers. Bobby’s sparkling personality will be missed by all.

  41. Diana Morgan says:

    Bobby was wonderful. My deepest sympathies, Brends

  42. Anne Payne says:

    Brenda and family, I am so sorry to hear about Bobby. He will always be missed by his family but try to hang on to all the wonderful memories and the great years you had together. I’ve been where you are and my heart goes out to you. Time is a great healer so lean on your family and friends and you’ll be OK. God bless you and give you peace.

  43. John and Rita Staley says:

    We were saddened to hear of your loss.
    Bobby was a well respected friend and colleague. He will be missed by all who knew him. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this time. Blessings,
    John and Rita Staley

  44. Benton Stewart says:

    Very sorry to learn of Bobby’s passing. He was a great friend as a fellow Principal in Knox County. Spent many days with him around Nashville and as Career Ladder Evaluators for Administrators in the state. Will be thinking of the family during this difficult time.

  45. Robert (Bud) & Lona Galyon says:

    Brenda & family; Although you do not know us personally, we have prayed for Bobby, you and all your family for such a long time thru his illness and now his homegoing. God has placed on my heart two bible verses I feel HE wants me to share with you at this time. The first is Psalms 116:15 that says: Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. (There was rejoicing when Bobby went to heaven.) The 2nd verse is Jeremiah 29:11 which says: For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (God’s word is promising that HE already has plans for you and your future and HE is going to take good care of you.) You will continue to be in my prayers in the days to come. May God bless you in every way and meet your every need. This is my prayer for you and all of Bobby’s family.

  46. Glenn & Rosemary Gray says:

    Brenda & family; I was a teammate of Bobby on the 62-65 UT football team. I have many fond memories on and off the football field with Bobby. He was such an encouragement to me and others on our team. He always found time to talk with you. Bobby came to visit us in Augusta, GA back in the 70’s and went to the Masters Golf Tournament saying he had a great time seeing the golfers. I can remember that just like it was yesterday. I am so glad I have that memory of Bobby. Brenda, I want to share these few verses from God’s word.( Matthew 5:4) “Blessed are those who mourn,for they shall be comforted”. The Lord will wrap His arms of love and comfort around those who trust in Him. (Psalm 147:3)” He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” Just lean on God and allow Him to continue the process of healing your broken heart. May our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ mean everything to you and your family through this grieving process for only He can replace your sorrow with great unending joy. Bobby could say “For I know that I am ready for I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course here on earth , I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim.2:6-9) On Dec.28th the gates of Heaven were opened to their widest in receiving Bobby because he truly loved the Lord with all his heart and soul. You and your family are in our prayers daily.

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