David Bergen Gracy II

October 25, 1941September 26, 2020
Obituary of David Bergen Gracy II
David Bergen Gracy II died peacefully at home in Austin, Texas on September 26, 2020. He was exemplary in all that he was: family man, archivist, archival educator, and historian. A native Austinite, David was born on October 25, 1941 to David Caldwell Gracy (who owned and operated Gracy Title Company) and Alice Tillar Duggan Gracy. He attended Wooldridge Elementary and, in its first year of operation, O. Henry Junior High. For the eighth through twelfth grades, he attended Sewanee Military Academy in Tennessee, rising to the rank of First Sergeant and first cornet in the Academy band. For the rest of his life, he took pride in wearing his high school ring. On a trip to Sewanee in 1954, stopping on a lark at Shiloh Battlefield, he discovered the joy of history, which led him to pursue a BA and MA in History at the University of Texas and a Ph.D. in History at Texas Tech University. While completing his Ph. D. he also served as archivist of Texas Tech’s Southwest Collection, then accepted the opportunity to create the Southern Labor and University Archives of Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia in 1971. He was elected third president of the Society of Georgia Archivists and created Georgia Archive (now Provenance), only the fourth journal on archives in the world. Appreciation of Georgia Archive resulted in an invitation to write the volume on arrangement and description for the Society of American Archivists’ (SAA) inaugural manual describing basic archival functions. With growing stature in the field, he was elected SAA president for 1983-1984. His presidential “Archives and Society” initiative was among his enduring contributions to the field; it stimulated the profession to bring focus to the value, relevance and significance that archives bring to society beyond the mere historical record. In 1977 he returned to Texas to direct the Texas State Archives and became a leader in the Texas archival community. In 1980, while still serving as Director, he was invited to teach an archives course as an adjunct in the University of Texas’ Graduate School of Library and Information Science (now School of Information) — the lone archives course they offered. He joined the faculty as a full professor in 1986— the Governor Bill Daniel Professor in Archival Enterprise — and developed a full curriculum in “archival enterprise,” a term he popularized. Recruiting, inspiring and developing the next generation of archivists brought him great joy and he mentored many. Amongst archivists and family alike he was famous for saying “into the breach!” which served as encouragement and call to action. His advocacy for archives was also legendary. As one former student would say, “Talking to David Gracy about archives is like talking to Billy Graham about Jesus!”. David was an accomplished writer and he spent untold evenings and weekends working in his home office accompanied by the classical music he loved. He relished devising the memorable turns of phrase which would both inform and entertain, and when he lectured, his talents as scholar and storyteller were showcased through his preacher-like delivery. In addition to the numerous professional articles he authored and speeches he wrote, he published four books before his retirement: Littlefield Lands: Colonization on the Texas Plains, 1912-1920 (1960); Moses Austin: His Life (1986); Sunrise! Governor Bill Daniel and the Second Liberation of Guam (2010); and The State Library and Archives of Texas: A History, 1835-1962 (2010). During his career, he taught workshops across the globe and consulted across a diverse set of organizations including governments, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the King Ranch. He served on several state and national boards. Among his recognitions, David was elected Fellow of the Society of American Archivists, the Texas State Historical Association, and the Society of Georgia Archivists. He received a Society of American Archivists Council Exemplary Service Award for Lifetime Achievement. It was a distinct honor to have been named an “Honorary Daughter of the Republic of Texas” in 2017 for his decades of service protecting and preserving the history of the Republic of Texas. Four awards bear his name: the David B. Gracy II Award which honors superior contribution to Provenance; the David B. Gracy II Scholarship from the Society of Southwest Archivists; the David B. Gracy II Endowed Excellence Fund at the UT Austin School of Information, an award created by his students; and the Dr. David B. Gracy II Graduate Research Assistantship for Special Collections & Archives at Georgia State University. In 2011, after over 50 years in the archival field, he retired from the University of Texas as Professor Emeritus. In retirement David wrote A Man Absolutely Sure of Himself: Texan George Washington Littlefield (2019), the culmination of a lifetime of work. The life of Littlefield, his great, great uncle who fought at Shiloh and was a pioneering rancher, banker, Austin civic leader, and Regent and benefactor to the University of Texas, was a constant interest to him, from that first trip to Shiloh with his mother. Retirement also afforded him the opportunity to volunteer with the Austin Steam Train Association where he both served on the board and spent many a day in on-board service during the runs. Trains were a lifelong interest; his earliest memories were of standing with his father at the Lamar Street grade watching the steam engines do their work switching cars. He had a model train layout in every home throughout his life, and he took great pleasure in running the trains for guests of all ages. While a student at the University of Texas, he met his wife of 58 years, Laura Lee Baade Gracy, who survives him. She was an unfailing support to him through the years and David was never happier than when they were sharing their home with family and friends for the countless birthday parties, Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas Eve tamales and Christmas Day dinners, and student gatherings they hosted. David was a positive person who lovingly encouraged his children and grandchildren at every step; each recall how often he said, “proud of you”. And no visit back home, regardless of length, was complete without him saying, “Come back when you can stay longer!” He is survived by his children: Laura Annette Gracy Juba and husband Joseph “Jay” Stephen Juba of Austin; Mary Beth Gracy Martinez and husband Jason Joseph Martinez of Houston; and Benjamin Baade Gracy of San Antonio; and grandchildren Jacob Paul Juba and his wife Meghan Kenny Juba of Fort Worth, and their daughter Adeline Gracy Juba; Gracy Elizabeth Juba of Austin; Elizabeth Alice Martinez and David Everardo Martinez of Houston; his sister, Lucile Gracy Harmon of Austin; his brother- and sister-in-law Henry Howard Baade Jr. and Mary Roberson Baade of Wharton, Texas; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and cherished colleagues who shared his life. He is predeceased by his father in 1946, his mother in 1995, and sister Ruth Gracy Wise in 2014. Over recent weeks he and his family have enjoyed reading the cards, letters, and emails from colleagues and friends, many of them recalling his warmth, mentorship, joyful spirit, and contribution to the profession. David and his family appreciated the care and support he received from Dr. Carlos Rubin de Celis and Roxanne Sparks and their team at Texas Oncology, and Dr. Ana Aparicio and Dr. Timothy Yap and their teams at MD Anderson. Graveside services will be Friday, October 2nd at 3 p.m. at Oakwood Cemetery. David would be honored to have memorials made to any of the archival funds that bear his name, to the Austin Steam Train Association, or to a charity of your choice.

Show your support

Past Services

Friday, October 02, 2020

Graveside Service