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Kate McGraw, veteran New Mexico journalist, dies at age 71

Journal North Staff Report

Kate McGraw, a mainstay of Santa Fe journalism for more than two decades who also had been active in the local theater scene, has died at age 71 after a long illness.

McGraw for many years wrote the weekly “Gallery Guide” for the Journal North and also had profiled many local businesses for the newspaper as a freelance writer through 2012. She died at home on Saturday, according to her brother Stuart Graw of Santa Fe. She had multiple sclerosis.

Kate McGraw

Kate McGraw

McGraw also had worked and written for the Santa Fe Reporter, the Santa Fe New Mexican and other local publications.

Ever the writer, McGraw had penned her own obituary. It ends with a note titled TO MY FRIENDS:

“Dylan Thomas was wrong. You can go gentle into that good night.

You do not need to rage against the dying of the light.

It’s called the vesper light and it is very beautiful.

Walk on into the beauty.”

She followed that verse with “-30-,” the traditional newspaper copy mark that means “end of story”

McGraw also wrote of herself, “She often said she considered journalism a way to help people understand each other, and with that understanding, perhaps accept each other and make life more peaceful.”

Mark Oswald, the Journal North editor, said, “Kate was a gifted and thoughtful writer and a great interviewer. Her best pieces for our paper were essentially little biographies – she had a knack for persuading her subjects to talk about their life journeys and could then produce wonderful newspaper articles that brought these personal stories to life on the page.”

“Santa Fe’s journalism community has lost one of its stalwarts,” Oswald added.

Her brother Stuart said Monday that Kate changed her last name from Graw to McGraw in part because she believed “it made a better byline.” Over the years, she lent her journalistic touch to the community in many ways, editing sports stories, covering oil regulators for a statehouse journal and providing regular coverage of Santa Fe’s religious congregations.

Born in Camden, Ark., McGraw graduated from Texas Tech University in Lubbock and first came to New Mexico in 1970 and worked for the Alamogordo Daily News and for the El Paso Times from the southern part of the state. She moved to Santa Fe in 1979 and covered state government for a string of newspapers around New Mexico.

Before her illnesses, she also was a regular in regional theater. She’s remembered for her work with the late John Gooch’s “West End Christmas” shows; the role of Miss Tweed in “Something’s Afoot,” for which she won the 1982 Santa Fe Theater Guild Award for best actress in a musical, as well as for her portrayal of Mama in a multi-racial production of “A Raisin in the Sun.”

Bob Sinn, a friend who worked with McGraw in the theater, said Monday that she was a “an extremely talented actress,” particular in “character-actor” roles.

“She was very loyal to her friends,” Sinn said. “She was a prolific card sender. I was always amazed how she kept up with everybody’s birthday.”

Stuart Graw said his sister was “a very private person in a lot of ways. She wanted to do her own thing when she wanted to do it. I think that’s why she worked as a freelancer for so long.”

She also completed two unpublished mystery novels set in Santa Fe, “The Whistling Lifeguard” and “Murder Pro Tem.”

Sinn said, “She was a very dedicated writer. She always gave her best up to the end.”

In addition to Stuart, Kate is survived by her mother, Mary Louise Graw, also of Santa Fe; two sisters, Susan Gallagher and husband Jim, of St. Louis, and Emily Guilliams of Lebanon, Pa.; three nieces, Megan and Emily Gallagher and Erin Guilliams, and one nephew, John S. Guilliams.

Services will be at The Church of the Holy Faith at 11 a.m. on Saturday (Sept. 26). Internment of her ashes will be in the Holy Faith columbarium.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Santa Fe Interfaith Community Shelter Fund or the Montel Williams MS Foundation, 331 West 57th Street, PMB 420, New York, NY 10019.

Here is Kate’s self-authored obituary, with the date of death and particulars of her memorial services added by brother Stuart:

KATHLEEN LENORE (KATE) MCGRAW, 71, died September 19, 2015 from natural causes following a long illness. She was preceded in death by her father John L. Graw, brother-in-law Jesse Guilliams, aunt Miriam Grace Hogan, best friend Alexander Buster McGraw and many close friends.

Kate is survived by her mother, Mary Louise Graw, and brother, Stuart L. Graw, both of Santa Fe; two sisters, Susan Gallagher and husband Jim, of St. Louis, Mo., and Emily Guilliams of Lebanon, Pa.; three nieces, Megan and Emily Gallagher and Erin Guilliams, and one nephew, John S. Guilliams. She also is survived by several cousins and numerous friends.

Kate was a professional newspaper journalist from the time she was 13 years old in Camden, Ark. She often said she considered journalism a way to help people understand each other, and with that understanding, perhaps accept each other and make life more peaceful. A graduate of Texas Tech University, she taught high school English, speech and journalism for five years in Sudan and Ralls, Texas, filing stories to local and regional newspapers during that time. After she moved to New Mexico in 1970, she worked for the Alamogordo Daily News and The El Paso Times in southern New Mexico. In 1979, she moved to Santa Fe, where she established a freelance career covering state government for a string of New Mexico newspapers. During the past 35 years in Santa Fe, Kate won several awards while reporting and writing on everything from sports, arts and food to politics, business, religion and human-interest features for the Santa Fe New Mexican, Santa Fe Reporter and Albuquerque Journal. For nearly seven years, Kate wrote the weekly “Gallery Guide” feature for the Journal North’s Venue pages, as well as religion stories and a variety of business features. In her career, she edited sports pages and special sections; was published in numerous magazines; did contract public relations writing and editing for Santa Fe Community College; covered the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division and Commission as a correspondent for R.W. Byram Statehouse Reports for more than 33 years; edited CAD software magazines and online newsletters for ConnectPress, Inc., and completed two unpublished mystery novels set in Santa Fe, “The Whistling Lifeguard” and “Murder Pro Tem.”

Before her illnesses, she also enjoyed acting in regional theater. Kate is especially remembered for her work with the “West End Christmas” shows, the role of Miss Tweed in “Something’s Afoot,” for which she won the 1982 Santa Fe Theatre Guild Award for Best Actress in a Musical, as well as for her portrayal of Mama (Lena Younger) in a multi-racial production of “A Raisin in the Sun.” She loved reading mysteries and biographies, dining out, and swimming at Fort Marcy Complex and Salvador Perez Pool. She was a private person, but she enjoyed sending cards to remember her friends’ birthdays.

Cremation has been completed. Services will be at The Church of the Holy Faith at 11:00AM on Saturday, September 26, 2015. Internment of her ashes will be in the Holy Faith columbarium. Memorial contributions may be made to the Santa Fe Interfaith Community Shelter Fund or the Montel Williams MS Foundation, 331 West 57th Street, PMB 420, New York, NY 10019.

TO MY FRIENDS

Dylan Thomas was wrong. You can go gentle into that good night.
You do not need to rage against the dying of the light.
It’s called the vesper light and it is very beautiful.
Walk on into the beauty.

-30-

 

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