Obituary: Paul J. Landgraf, veteran employee in environmental health, public affairs, 73

Landgraf

Paul J. Landgraf, a veteran employee of Washington University in St. Louis, died Tuesday, May 19, 2020. He had suffered a fall earlier in the month at his home. He was 73.

Landgraf was known across campus for his warm personality, eagerness to lend a hand and commitment to the health and safety of all who worked, studied and visited Washington University.

“He made WashU a safer place,” said Bradley King, director of occupational safety in the Office of Environmental Health & Safety. “He was instrumental in so many initiatives, from developing the first office ergonomics program so employees would not suffer from repetitive strain injuries and musculoskeletal disorders, to supporting student groups with events like Thurtene Carnival and WILD, to working with local fire marshals and contractors whenever they were on campus. Paul was very passionate about making sure, at the end of the day, everyone got home safe.”

After a nearly 25-year career in the U.S. Air Force, Landgraf joined the university in 1991 as safety coordinator and joined the environmental health and safety office in 2005, where he worked until his retirement in 2015. But Landgraf’s time away from campus was brief, a surprise to no one familiar with his work ethic and fidelity to the university. In 2016, the Office of Public Affairs recruited Landgraf to provide logistical support for the presidential debate. He stayed on, working part time as a receptionist until his death.

“Paul was the heart of this office, always there with a smile to share a story, to ask about your family, to provide a valuable perspective,” said Julie Flory, interim vice chancellor for public affairs. “When Paul talked, we listened. Not only because he was a great conversationalist and a fascinating storyteller, but also because he had so much institutional knowledge and so many strong relationships across campus. He was a beloved friend and colleague, and we will miss him very much.”

At an impromptu Zoom memorial service, co-workers reminisced about Landgraf’s love for his family, pride in his military service and talent for making everyone feel welcome. One of those employees was Rachel Twedt, who met Landgraf when she arrived early for her job interview. Twedt was nervous, but within minutes Landgraf had her laughing and totally at ease. She got the job and a desk just a few feet away from her new friend.

“That kindness he showed me — I witnessed that over and over again with everyone who came into this office,” said Twedt, a multimedia coordinator. “He loved connecting with people and he loved WashU.”

Landgraf is survived by his wife, Maria; son, Steven Landgraf (and Cecelia Mcpheron-Landgraf) of St. Charles; brother John Landgraf; and two grandchildren, Kaden and Grayson Landgraf. No services will be held at this time. Contributions are suggested to an Alzheimer’s, diabetes or cancer treatment organization of your choice.

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