Neal Graffy is almost a Santa Barbara native, the result of a premature birth nine years too soon in Wichita, Kansas.
His love for Santa Barbara History began at age 13 when he started gardening and doing odd jobs for Mrs. Leontine Phelan, a descendant of the founder of the Santa Barbara Presidio, who lived in an adobe house built from the Presidio ruins.
In 1989 he gave his first slide show on Santa Barbara History and has since given well over 250 presentations on 19 different topics. He is no stranger to the printed page, having written for the Santa Barbara News-Press, Santa Barbara Independent, Santa Barbara Magazine, the Santa Barbara Historical Museum, the Trust for Historic Preservation and the Santa Barbara Genealogical Society.
In return, his expertise has been sought out by the media with countless appearances on local, state and national radio and TV. He has been featured in several documentaries including the Emmy Award winning “Impressions in Time.” He has appeared statewide on Huell Howser’s California Gold, KCET TV’s Life and Times and, nationally, on This Old House.
Neal has served as a Board Member of the Historical Museum, member (and chairman) of the Santa Barbara County Landmarks Commission, board member of the Mission Canyon Association, and president of the Santa Barbara Corral of Westerners. He is, also, a founding member of de la Guerra y Pacheco Chapter 1.5 of the Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus and an exNoble Grand Humbug of that esteemed organization.
In 2002, Santa Barbara Magazine pronounced him “One of 20 Santa Barbaran’s to Watch.” Two years later, he founded the Santa Barbara History Consortium, a not-for-profit corporation, established for the specific purpose of providing local history to a wide audience through film and video production, publishing and oral presentations.