Michael Conrad Graebner was the snarling lacrosse defenseman, a physical team leader who led Towson High School to a state championship and later Towson University to the Division I finals.
But he also was the caring neighbor who planted and maintained flowers for others, and regularly comforted the elderly and ran their errands.
A friend described Mr. Graebner as the person you "wanted to introduce to other people." Mr. Graebner died Monday of heart failure at his home in Towson's Loch Raven Village. He was 24.
"He was a popular guy who was always fun to be around," said Randy Dase, who coached Mr. Graebner at Towson High. "Lacrosse was a major part of his life. I was thrilled to work with him."
An outgoing, all-or-nothing competitor, Mr. Graebner helped Towson High win the state 2A lacrosse championship in 1992.
At Towson High, he lettered in soccer, football, basketball and lacrosse. He decided in high school that he was best-suited for lacrosse, friends said.
"He was an all-around athlete, but lacrosse just seemed to fit," said Dave Byerly, a longtime friend. "He was lean and mean. He was one of the best men I've ever known. He was the kind of person you wanted to introduce to other people. He represented Towson well."
He was known for his passion for sports.
At Towson University, he started every game of the 1995 and 1996 seasons and helped the school reach the NCAA Division I finals in 1996.
The North Atlantic Conference honored him in 1996 by naming him to its first team.
A strapping, 6-foot-2, 220-pound defenseman with overpowering strength, Mr. Graebner usually was assigned to the opponent's top offensive threat -- a challenge he didn't take lightly.
"He loved lacrosse and played hard," said his mother, Kathryn Amey Shelton of Beckleysville. "He believed that whatever you're doing, you should do your best. Always."
Mr. Graebner also performed well in the classroom, and received a full academic scholarship to Essex Community College before he transferred to Towson University.
Born in Denver, Mr. Graebner came to Towson as a child, attended Rodgers Forge Elementary School, Dumbarton Middle School and graduated from Towson High School in 1992.
He attended Essex Community College and the former Towson State University on a full lacrosse scholarship. He majored in mass communications and graduated in 1996.
Since 1997, Mr. Graebner had worked as a sales representative for John Deere Co. through Finch Turf Equipment of Westminster.
Mr. Graebner was a member of Ascension Lutheran Church and served on the church council while in high school. Services are scheduled for 11 a.m. tomorrow at the church, 7601 York Road in Towson.
In addition to his mother, he is survived by his father, James H. Graebner of Denver; a sister, Karla Graebner of the Outer Banks, N.C.; and a grandmother, Julia Amey of Palm City, Fla.
Pub Date: 6/26/98