Weatherford Democrat

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August 2, 2013

Goodbye to a legend

Famed Texas author who penned the classic ‘Goodbye to a River’ dies at the age of 92

By CLINT FOSTER and LIBBY CLUETT | Lone Star News Group

GLEN ROSE – Author John Alexander Graves III, whose authentic portrayals of rural Texas made him one of the state’s most celebrated and beloved writers, has died at the age of 92.

Graves’ death was announced Wednesday by W.K. “Kip” Stratton, president of the Texas Institute of Letters. Stratton wrote in an email to institute members that Graves died at his home near Glen Rose. He was just six days away from his 93rd birthday and had been in ill health before he passed.

Graves was a towering literary figure, best known for his 1960 book “Goodbye to a River.” Widely recognized as a classic, this memoir depicts a three-week, 175-mile canoe trip Graves took down the Brazos River with his dachshund.

Concerned the section of the Brazos from Possum Kingdom Lake to Granbury would be drowned by a proposed series of several dams, Graves’ set forth on his famous “farewell” canoe trip down the river during the fall of 1957, beginning just below Morris Sheppard Dam at Possum Kingdom.

In his narrative account, Graves shared his childhood memories of the free-flowing river and surrounding country, while mourning the loss of the river as he once new it and lamenting the future as plans to build dams and alter mass areas of land were in place at the time.

“Goodbye to a River” endured as one of the most widely read and acclaimed books about Texas and was nominated for a National Book Award.

Several years ago, after the state closed several mining operations that were damaging the Brazos River, the Texas Legislature passed a bill naming a 113-mile segment of the river, from Possum Kingdom Lake to Lake Granbury, the “John Graves Scenic Waterway.”

Graves also wrote “Hard Scrabble” in 1974 and “From a Limestone Ledge” in 1980. The books became known as his “Brazos Trilogy.”

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