Obituary of Eric Graebener
Eric Matthew Graebener, 29, passed away at home on Friday, June 26, 2020, after a long battle with an incurable illness. Eric was born in East Stroudsburg, PA, grew up in Bound Brook, attended local schools, and graduated from St. Joseph High School in Metuchen. He was a trained mechanic and attended Raritan Valley Community College for two years. After college, he qualified to become a commercial truck driver and pursued a successful driving career with Wakefern Foods.
Eric was a passionate advocate for workers’ rights. At 21, he supported and promoted his unrepresented fellow workers by successfully organizing a union at a previous trucking company. He was a dynamic and vocal member of Local 863 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, actively participating in union demonstrations, protests, and other sanctioned social justice activities. In September of 2017, Eric was part of a support team the Teamsters sent to Puerto Rico to transport supplies in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. With only 20% of the island’s truck drivers able to report for work, the Teamsters were tasked with moving food, water, and medical supplies throughout the devastated island.
This was the type of challenge that Eric excelled at, thinking creatively and engaging the cooperation and enthusiasm of a diverse group of people.
Throughout his life, Eric showed a practical benevolence for the underdog, the underprivileged, and the disenfranchised. He regularly fed the homeless on his trucking routes, offering them both care and kindness. His compassion for animals was also evident in that he rescued dozens of stray cats and kittens from the bail yard at work and found homes for all of them. Eric’s love for classic American cars also had practical applications; he loved buying and restoring cars from the 70s and 80s, and then donating them to others. If he wasn’t working on cars or driving a truck, Eric was riding his Russian Ural motorcycle throughout the neighborhood. There was never a doubt that Eric loved to drive.
Eric was a communicant of St. Mary of Czestochowa church in Bound Brook where he participated as an altar server throughout his grammar and high school years. As a teenager, he also volunteered at Somerset Medical Center.
Eric is survived by his loving mother, Jean Graebener, his grandfather, Bernard P. Graebener, his aunt and godmother, Karen Graebener, aunt Nancy Miller and husband Bill, and seven uncles: Bernard W. Graebener, Lawrence Graebener and wife Betty, Mark Graebener and wife Norma, Karl Graebener and wife Sharon, Raymond Farrell, Peter Graebener, and Paul Graebener and wife Louise. Eric also leaves behind 16 cousins: Annessa Smith and husband Jeff, Elsabeth Graebener, Katie Graebener, Erin Graebener, Mark W. Graebener and wife Angela, Maximillian Graebener, Bill Miller, Nicole Brodie and husband Tyler, Clay Graebener, Scott Farrell, John Farrell, Keefe Graebener, Kurt Graebener, Gretchen Graebener, and Brigette Graebener.
Gathering will be at Hagan-Chamberlain Funeral Home in Bound Brook on Sunday, July 5th, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. The funeral mass on Monday will be private due to the limited numbers permitted in response to corona virus precautions. Entombment will be at Resurrection Cemetery in Piscataway.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to St. Hubert’s Animal Wildlife Center, www.sthuberts.org, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/donate.