Ronald Clifford McGraw

Ronald Clifford McGraw

Ronald Clifford McGraw

Cedar Rapids

Ronald Clifford McGraw passed away on April 19, 2024, at the age of 97. He is survived by his four sons, Kevin (Pam) McGraw, Eugene, OR, Brian (Terri) McGraw, Muscoda, WI, Gary (Laura) McGraw, Cedar Rapids, Donald (Marian) McGraw, Alexandria, VA, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his wife of 68 years, Lillian McGraw, his parents, and four siblings. A celebration of Ron’s life will be held at the Cedar Memorial Chapel of Memories on Saturday, June 1, 2 pm, with a reception following at the Cedar Memorial Family Center and Library.

Ronald was born in Evansville, IN, on July 20, 1926, to Clifford McGraw and Delphina (Grewe) McGraw. His father was a railroad engineer and Ron had many stories about train trips, including opportunities to be in the locomotive with his dad. After graduating from high school in 1944, Ron was drafted into the U.S. Army. Through a series of events, including a troop transport ship breaking down in the Pacific, WWII ended before he was ever deployed in theater. Ron then served with occupation forces in Korea as a medic, which resulted in many memorable experiences. In retrospect he would say, “I got more from the Army than the Army got from me.” Following his service, Ron attended Evansville College for pre-engineering courses where he met Lillian Dillon. They married in 1949. Ron finished his studies at Purdue University, where he graduated with a BS in Electrical Engineering in 1951.

After graduation, Ron and Lillian moved to Cedar Rapids, where they lived for the rest of their lives. Ron joined Collins Radio (later Rockwell Collins) in 1951 and was employed there until 1992. Ron had a distinguished career, starting in UHF radio engineering, then program management which included leading industry firsts like the AINS-70 area navigation system, the color cockpit displays on the Boeing 757/767, and finally as vice-president for railroad electronics, a business area he helped to establish. His business travels took him to China, Australia, and Europe providing him many memorable experiences.

After retiring from Rockwell Collins, Ron started a second “career” as a busy volunteer. He led trail planning efforts with the Linn County Trails Association for many years and spent many hours working with officials from local area governments and the state DOT. Ron’s groundwork helped make many of the trails we enjoy in the Cedar Rapids area today a reality. Ron and Lillian were longtime members of Peoples Church Unitarian Universalist and he served Peoples in multiple capacities, notably as Treasurer for many years.

Ron and Lillian provided a loving, supportive family environment for their four sons and Ron relished time spent with his family. Ron was an avid recreational sailor and enjoyed spending time outdoors hiking and cycling. For many years he was part of a group of co-workers that went on an annual Boundary Waters canoe trip which also became a rite of passage for his sons. An engineer at heart, he was a tinkerer and was always trying to improve things. He also was known not to pass up an opportunity for ice cream or popcorn.

Ron’s family would like to acknowledge the care and support Ron received in the last years of his life from Grand Living Indian Creek, The Views of Marion, and St. Croix Hospice. Gifts in memory of Ron can be made to Peoples Church or Linn County Trails Association.

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