Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

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August 1, 2013

Goodbye to a legend

John Graves dies at 92

By LIBBY CLUETT and CLINT FOSTER

GLEN ROSE – John Graves, the author of “Goodbye to a River” and other iconic books about rural Texas, died shortly after midnight, Wednesday, at his home near Glen Rose, just six days away from his 93rd birthday.

He had reportedly been in ill health before he passed.

One of the of the state’s most celebrated and beloved writers, Graves was best known for his 1960 book “Goodbye to a River.”

Widely recognized as a classic, the book 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.

In his narrative account, Graves shared his childhood memories of the free-flowing river and surrounding country. He also mourned the loss of the river, as he once new it, and lamented 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.

Some Palo Pinto County residents responded Wednesday on Graves’ impact on and depiction of this area.

“He was talking about the heart of Palo Pinto County in ‘Goodbye to a River,’” said longtime resident, outdoorsman and local historian Don Price.

Price moved to the area in 1946, while in high school and helped his family run the Western Auto store in Mineral Wells and knows the river and Graves’ writings well.

“About half the book is about Palo Pinto County, and it’s well-researched,” Price said. “Of course, he adds some fiction to it, because it’s a ‘flowing narrative,’ that’s what he called it.”

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