Robert J. Graves Sr., 56, D.C. elementary principal

January 09, 2004

Robert James Graves Sr., a District of Columbia elementary school principal who also taught for many years in Baltimore public schools and was an avid basketball player, died of cancer Saturday at University of Maryland Medical Center. The Northeast Baltimore resident was 56.

Born in Baltimore and raised on West Fayette Street, he was a 1966 graduate of Carver Vocational-Technical High School, where he was point guard on its varsity basketball team. Newspaper articles referred to him as "Carver's high-point man" and "Carver's scoring machine." In the mid-1980s, he returned to the school, teaching social studies and coaching basketball.

Mr. Graves worked on the assembly line at General Motors' Broening Highway plant to put himself through Coppin State College, where he earned a bachelor's degree in social sciences.

Beginning in 1973, he taught at the old Ralph Young School, a Roman Catholic school for boys in East Baltimore.

Three years later, he was hired by the city school system and taught at William H. Lemmel and West Baltimore junior highs and Eastern High School, in addition to Carver.

In 1993, he earned a master's degree at Coppin State College and became a special-education teacher in the District of Columbia public schools. In 2000, he was named principal of Ferebee-Hope Elementary School in Southeast Washington.

Mr. Graves continued to play basketball in old-timers leagues at Fredrick Douglass High School and was commissioner of the adult Sportsman's Basketball League. He was also a member of the Bunny Jackson Scholarship Fund Committee for students attending Coppin.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at noon today at St. Bernardine Roman Catholic Church, 3812 Edmondson Ave., where he was a member.

Survivors, all of Baltimore, include his wife of 37 years, the former Joyce Garner; two sons, Robert J. Graves Jr. and Randall Graves; a daughter, Rhonda Graves; three brothers, Tyrone Howard, Edward Epps Sr. and William Graves Jr.; and three sisters, Delores Swinton, Deborah Rouzer and Darlene Alexander. He also is survived by 13 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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