QUAPAW, Okla. (Feb. 24, 2005) — Clarence Burggraf, former owner of Burggraf Tire Co. in Quapaw, died Feb. 21. He was 74.
Mr. Burggraf died following a short illness, according to his obituary. Mr. Burggraf had sold the company to Joe Karnes in the late 1990s, but he remained on the board of directors, the company said.
Mr. Burggraf's father, Edward, started the tire company's precursor in the 1930s, a small business selling gas, ice and coal. Recapped tires later were added. Mr. Burggraf joined the business in 1951 at age 20 and saw the growing market for selling new tires to area tire shops as well as the recaps. The current business was founded in 1963 by the father and son. A fire that year destroyed the recapping shop, and it was never replaced.
Vice President Ron Thrasher said the tire company under Mr. Burggraf grew to a network of some 30 retail stores in addition to five distribution centers. The retail end was trimmed back following a family feud and tough economic times in the 1980s, according to the company. Burggraf Tire now operates three retail outlets and is primarily a wholesale distributor with two warehouses in Texas and Oklahoma serving six states, Mr. Thrasher said.
On Feb. 19, Mr. Burggraf was awarded the Tire Industry Service Award from the Mid-America Tire Dealers Association. Shawn Herrick, executive director of the association, said the award is given every year to an individual who has distinguished himself or herself in the tire industry either through years of service or a single exemplary act. Ms. Herrick said Mr. Karnes accepted the award on behalf of Mr. Burggraf, who was unable to attend. Mr. Karnes also had nominated him, she said.
In addition to his tire industry work, Mr. Burggraf was a member of the Quapaw Volunteer Fire Department and served as fire chief for several years. He also owned Wilder's Café in Joplin, Mo., where he had moved in 1982.
Mr. Burggraf is survived by his wife of 56 years Shirley; son Gus; daughters Clarissa Bissinger and Kim Taconis; brother and sister-in-law J.C. and Martha Burggraf; sisters Carol Jones and Doris Brewer; brother-in-law Bill Brewer; six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Memorial services will be held Feb. 25. Memorials are suggested to the Quapaw Volunteer Fire Department or the First United Methodist Church of Quapaw.