Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

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August 1, 2013

Goodbye to a legend

John Graves dies at 92


“I think he and Rattlesnake Annie were instrumental in keeping them from damming the Brazos, between PK and Granbury [lakes],” said Lela Abernathy, a journalist, poet and fifth-generation Palo Pinto County resident.

“He’s a good writer; he says a lot with few words,” she added. “He’s my favorite Texas author and his narratives were written from scholarly, historical and naturalist points of view – and he was well-versed in all three fields.”

“Some of my family are featured in ‘Goodbye to a River,’” she said, citing the story of her relative, Jodie Corbin, who was with Jesse Veale when Veale was killed by Native Americans. “He has made the history of the county and some of my ancestors come alive.”

For Mineral Wells resident and recent award-winning writer Gerald Warfield, Graves is synonymous with other well-known naturalist writers that helped define regions of the United States.

“For me, there are writers that are identified with different parts of the country – John Muir [for California’s Sierra Nevada mountains] and Henry Beston, who painted beautiful word pictures of Cape Cod – but this was our man,” he said. “This was our representative for the natural wonders of this part of the country to the rest of the world.”

“He was the guy who represented us beautifully,” added Warfield, explaining that parts of Texas are “kind of sparse at times and Graves painted the best of this area. The way that he represented the Brazos watershed, he really lifted that out as the jewel of this part of the country.”

Joyce Rochelle is the owner of Rochelle’s Canoe Rental, on the Brazos River, a business started by her late husband Harlan’s grandparents in the 1920s. Although she never met Graves, she recalled Graves “came by here several times and visited with our grandparents, while writing [‘Goodbye to a River’].”

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