In Memory of





Obituary for Harry Clarence Graves Jr.

Harry Clarence Graves, Jr., 90, of Havre de Grace, MD, died August 21, 2022, at his home surrounded by loved ones. He was born September 16, 1931, in Havre de Grace to Harry and Edna (Barnard) Graves.

Harry was a lifetime resident of Havre de Grace except for his two-year tour with the Navy. Married at the age of seventeen to his high school sweetheart, Shirley LaPenotiere, he quickly embraced the responsibility of raising a family. While pursuing his engineering education at the University of Delaware, he worked as a gunman at APG, working his way up to Branch Chief and being honored with two Commander Awards for Civilian Service. Harry had a lifetime passion for guns and very much enjoyed his career at APG, until his retirement at 55. At that point he was ready to move on to his two other passions screaming for more attention, namely music and gardening.

Harry transformed a primitive, wooded acre of land into a festival of highly acclaimed gardens which were often on the Havre de Grace Garden Tours. His gardens often pose a mystery as to how one man could manage to move and place that much rock, slate, and large boulders all by himself; but, even at the age of 88, he was still somehow magically placing boulders in perfect garden homes.

But for those who knew anything about Harry, his life had always been centered around a strong love for creating music. He began writing songs with original lyrics as a young man and struggled to keep up with the flood of music that constantly poured into his hands. A number of his songs were incorporated into a 3 Act musical, “A Better Man”, performed at the Maritime Museum in Havre de Grace in 2007. In many ways this play was really about Harry…a story about a man who had a tough façade and unable to express his deep feelings other than through his music. The evolution of the music from this show actually chronicles his personal journey from angry young man (“…life really plays a nasty game.”) to one who could finally embrace his gentler side and share it with those he loved (“…never waste the sunshine.”).

Married to his soul mate Shirley for 73 years, he had a deep love and devotion to family, never looking back, not regretting, but embracing the responsibilities of a family. He frequently credited his wife for saving his life and followed her lead into supporting a number of local non- profits to include Charitable Garden Tours, The Locke House Museum, the Smith Chapel Pantry, and many initiatives for the homeless to include Good Hope Church in Edgewood, Homeless of Harford County and the Salvation Army. Harry and Shirley were proclaimed Harford County Living Treasures by the Harford County Council in 2021 for their long-time impact on the community.

Harry is survived by his wife, Shirley Mae; daughters Carol Koffinke, Eva Browning, Julie Shaker, Janet Farley, and Christina Graves; twelve grandchildren and sixteen great grandchildren. He is predeceased by his mother Edna May, father Harry Clarence Sr., and grandson William Harry Burkheimer.

A celebration of life and his music will take place at Smith Chapel, 3109 Churchville Rd., Churchville, MD 21028, on Saturday, September 17th at 11:00 am.
Please, no flowers. Donations may be made to Smith Chapel. Online condolences may be made at