William Graves, 77, Was Editor, World Traveler

William Pierce Evans Graves, editor of National Geographic magazine from April 1990 to December 1994, died in Lititz, Pa. on June 12. He was 77. Following retirement, Mr. Graves and his wife, Joyce, resided on Martha's Vineyard until he suffered a stroke in 2001.

Mr. Graves was the seventh full-time editor of National Geographic, and under his tenure, the magazine won two national magazine awards. He previously held the position of senior assistant editor for expeditions, and in that role, helped bring to the magazine's pages the stories of adventurer Thor Heyerdahl, underwater explorers Jacques-Yves Cousteau, George Bass, Robert Ballard and Eugenie Clark, anthropologists Louis Leakey and Richard Leakey and polar explorers Naomi Uemura and Will Steger. "Bill Graves made profound contributions to the direction of the magazine during the years he cultivated nonprofessional writers and adventurers as well as editing their articles," said Gilbert M. Grosvenor, chairman of National Geographic Society, "During his years as editor, he was highly acclaimed by professional journalists."

Mr. Graves joined the magazine in 1958 as a legend writer and was promoted to the magazine's articles staff three years later. Twenty-five National Geographic articles -- ranging from earthquakes, the Suez Canal and Iran to Martha's Vineyard and Mobile, Ala. -- appeared under his byline. His magazine assignments took him to every continent and the North Pole. He also wrote the National Geographic book, Hawaii, and contributed to five other National Geographic volumes including National Geographic Atlas of the World and Journey into China. During his time as magazine editor, he was a member of the National Geographic Society board of trustees.

Mr. Graves was born Dec. 27, 1926, in Washington, D.C. His father, Ralph A. Graves, was assistant editor of National Geographic magazine until his death in 1932. His mother, Elizabeth Evans Graves, then married Francis Bowes Sayre, who was to become U.S. High Commissioner to the Philippines.

In 1941, as the Japanese attacked U.S. bases in the Philippines, 14-year-old William and his family were evacuated from Manila to the Philippines island fortress of Corregidor, then under siege during the battle for Bataan. Two months later, the family escaped to Australia by submarine. Mr. Graves returned to the Island 43 years later to write Corregidor Revisited for National Geographic magazine.

He served in World War II with the U.S. Navy's amphibious forces and was stationed in Okinawa, the Philippines and Japan. He later attended Harvard University, graduating with a B.A. in English literature and American history in 1950. That year, he joined the U.S. Foreign Service, working in the consulates in Munich, Germany, and Nagoya and Yokohama, Japan. He left the foreign service in 1954 to enter journalism with a job covering Washington politics for the Munroe News Bureau.

Mr. Graves's older brother, Ralph, was managing editor of Life Magazine in the 1960s and later corporate editor of Time Inc. A stepbrother, the very Rev. Francis B. Sayre Jr., was dean of the Washington Cathedral for 25 years.

He is survived by his wife, Joyce, of Lancaster, Pa.; a son, William B. Graves of Pittsburgh, Pa., three grandchildren and a brother, Ralph, of New York city.

His earlier marriages to Louisa Hill and Louise Bowle ended in divorce.