Donald Miller Graves
1929 - 2020
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Donald Miller Graves, born March 22, 1929, in Hood River Oregon passed away peacefully and with the grace he showed in his long life on April 29, 2020, in Anchorage Alaska at the age of 91.
He was an Alaskan Pioneer and the son of Pioneers. His father, Lyman Graves, had been in the Territory since 1915. Lyman married Florence Miller in Oregon and they brought their young family to a Fox Farm on the remote Kanaga Island in the Aleutian Islands in 1930 when Don was 1 year old. While there Florence took ill due to bad teeth and after a year in the Aleutians upon their return to Oregon she passed away due to the infection. Don and his sister Shirley were then left with his grandparents on a farm in Shedd Oregon. Except for a year in Juneau while still young he spent his childhood during the Depression and World War II working the farm in Shedd. At the age of 14, in 1943, his father took him and his sister to Seward where Lyman had been harbormaster during the war. He spent some time in Seward and then moved to Anchorage to finish high school. He worked for several years for the old Alaska Road Commission as a cat skinner and surveyor pioneering the Sterling Highway, the Tok Cutoff and other projects. He started at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks in 1950 graduating in 1954 with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering. While he was at the University he met Jean Anderson, also from a Pioneer Alaskan family, and they married in 1952 and divorced in 1964. He spent two years in the Army at Ladd Field in Fairbanks and then started his career in construction management. He worked over the years for MUS, Pitcher Construction, his own company Western General, GHEMM Co, and was Director of Construction for the University of Alaska in Fairbanks and then Anchorage where he moved in 1973. He then started his own company Clark-Graves and later Estimations as a construction cost estimator and consultant where he worked until his retirement.
While in Anchorage he had the great good fortune to meet Andy (Mary Ann) Dunham and they had a wonderful, loving and adventurous relationship until the end. They designed and built a cabin in Seldovia where they spent much time over the years as well as epic trips around Alaska, the states and internationally.
He was an avid pilot since the 50s, he didn't consider himself much of a Bush pilot, he said he just liked to go up and look around. He was also a boat man running the rivers in the Interior and later in Seward, Homer and Seldovia. He ran the Yukon 800 three times in the 60s. He said he'd been tipped or flipped in every river in the Interior. He was an accomplished photographer, writer and poet.
He is survived by his four children, Eric Graves, Kathleen Wilson, Sheila Pennell and Gary Graves and his wife Kim Sweazy. He also had 10 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren. And he is survived by the love of his life Andy.
There will be no memorial service. His ashes will be interred in the Oakville Cemetery in Shedd Oregon next to his sister Shirley and his grandparents.

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Published in Daily News-Miner on May 12, 2020.
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5 entries
May 17, 2020
Sheila so sorry to hear of your father passing. Hope you are doing well. It's been along time since Lathrop High school. Sincerely Roland
Roland Castillo
May 15, 2020
My condolences to the family . May you find comfort in your treasured memories
and Gods promise to return our loved ones . 1st Thessalonians 4 : 13 & 14 .
May 13, 2020
Don was a extraordinary man. My late husband came to Alaska to go to the University and get his civil engineering degree because of Don. Andy and family, Thinking of you at this time of loss.
Aileen Herring
May 12, 2020
He was a referee for our little league games at Nussbaumer Field. We used to watch him drive the "Father's Folly" race boat up the Chena River during the Yukon 800. My special condolences to all of the Graves families.
Galen Cook
May 12, 2020
I remember 4th of July trips to Manley Hot Springs in the early 70's (being a friend of Gary's), and his comment on the young winner of the pie-eating contest "local boy makes good."
Jim Stevens
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