The Write Way
Page 5 of 5

In 1990, Louise Wrobelski's elementary classroom served as a research site for Graves. Wrobelski, left, is now the director of UNH's Literacy Institutes, founded by UNH English professor Tom Newkirk, right, to offer graduate-level courses on writing and the teaching of writing.

Graves' first book, Writing: Teachers and Children At Work, sold hundreds of thousands of copies and launched Heinemann into its position as the nation's leading publisher in literacy education. Many of his collaborators—including Calkins, Atwell, Kittle and Rief—and hundreds of other teachers have become influential authors published through Heinemann. Graves himself views his role in empowering teachers to write and publish as the single greatest impact of his life's work.

As a retired revolutionary, Graves keeps an active schedule. He usually writes from 5 to 11 a.m., when he goes running, skiing, cycling or hiking. On some days he gardens or works in his wood lot. Clad in hiking shorts, running shoes and a fleece vest, he looks fit and vigorous, the result of a demanding exercise regime.

After running for 34 years for fun, he began competing in his running club's half-marathons in 1998 at age 68. He won first place in 1999 and second-place awards in 2000 and 2003.

He and Betty have many shared interests. Each summer for the last several years, they've biked in Europe with Elderhostel, and they often hike and cross-country ski together. Their social life revolves around their church and their family, which now includes eight grandchildren.

Betty, a voracious reader, is helping local prison inmates learn to read. While she gardens and makes quilts, Don pursues his interest in U.S. history and World War II. He talks to Don Murray on the phone almost daily. Every evening, Graves and Betty sip a glass of wine and read poetry and short stories aloud to each other as darkness falls on the mountains around them.

And, of course, Graves stays involved, speaking at conferences, writing and working with local schools. E-mail and faxes now connect him with fellow writers and scholars around the world. In progress are two books, due out in January, and his DVD series. For Don Graves, retirement seems a lot like work, only better.

Kimberly Swick Slover is the director of communications for Colby-Sawyer College in New London, N.H., and a former editor of UNH Magazine.

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