OBITUARY: First-Ever Palm Bay Elementary Principal Donald Jesse Grabach, 84, Passed Away April 6
By Space Coast Daily // April 17, 2022
Also Principal of Southwest Junior High
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Retired school principal Donald Jesse Grabach’s love of life and family did not come to an end with his death but lives on with each of the many lives he touched. Don passed away unexpectantly on April 6, 2022, at the age of 84 surrounded by his loving family in Melbourne.
Don was born in Ann Arbor Michigan on December 27th, 1937, to Daniel and Jessie Grabach.
He earned a Bachelor of Science in Education from Ashland College in 1960 and went on to earn his Master of Education from Kent State in 1963. He taught grades 5 and 6 at Hamilton Elementary in Elyria Ohio from 1960 – to 1964 then moved into the leadership position of Principal of Hamilton Elementary from 1964-to 1966.
In 1966, Don and his family, Gale (wife), daughters Susan and Karen moved to Florida, and he became Palm Bay Elementary’s first Principal. Don made another move within the school system in 1970 becoming the Director of Instruction until 1972.
His love for students drew him back into the school and he took over as Principal of Southwest Junior High which is now Palm Bay High. In 1974 while Principal at Gemini Elementary he was selected to open another new school in Palm Bay, Lockmar Elementary, from where he retired in 1996.
On July 12, 1980, Don and Elizabeth (Libba) Fish were married. From the personal side of life, Don was an avid fisher. He and Libba loved to golf, always enjoyed a good western movie, and were long-time Gator football season ticket holders, but his most memorable times were spent with his family. In his early career, he contributed to the community through umpiring, as a member of the Jaycee’s, and much more.
After retirement, Don and Libba continued to be active within the community delivering for Meal on Wheels and being active members of their church. Don loved his family and all the students he guided and mentored over the years. Everywhere Don went there was a former student that would stop and talk to him thanking him for keeping them on the straight and narrow and helping them to recognize their dreams and goals.
Don and Elizabeth were active members for over 30 years at First United Methodist of Melbourne, Florida. They enjoyed plays, musicals, and travel. His heroes were John Wayne and Frank Sinatra and his favorite song was “My Way.”
During his career in education, Don received numerous awards and recognitions for outstanding leadership. He was a charismatic leader in whatever he did, he loved to tell a joke, a good bourbon, and Gator football.
Family traditions were of the utmost importance to him and were always fun, trips to the Keys, Easter Lunch with egg hunts, and the best Christmas morning breakfast imaginable. Grandpop and MiMi spent every Thursday afternoon with the great-grandkids building forts, working out on the exercise equipment, having parties on the back porch, and going to the movies. Grandpop was a blast but was a great figure of authority.
Don was preceded in death by his parents Daniel and Jessie Grabach, sister Arlene Curtiss, and brother Dean Grabach. He is survived by his loving wife, Elizabeth Anne Grabach; children Susan (Jeff) Stoker, Karen Kessler, and Tim (Lynn) Fish, grandchildren Kyle Stoker, Courtney (Brandon) Howard, Jesse (James) Harvey, Brittany (Jeremy) Robinson, and Chelsea (John) Leroux, Josh Brookes, great-grandchildren Taryn Rice, Jack Grimmich, Alexis Robinson, Morgan Howard, Patrick Grimmich, Jace Howard, Kendall Stoker, Harper Leroux, and Casin Leroux.
Services will be held at First United Methodist Church on April 22, at 2 p.m., 110 E New Haven Ave, Melbourne, Florida 32901. Immediately following the service there will be a Celebration of Life at, Sprengergarten, 2835 Eber Blvd., Melbourne, Florida.
Donations in Don’s memory can be made to First United Methodist Church or the Alzheimer’s Association.