Nancy Grape, a longtime editorial writer and columnist for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, died Wednesday in Redwood City, California. She was 84.

Mrs. Grape joined the Portland Newspapers (the Press Herald and Evening Express) in 1982 as an editorial writer and columnist, writing about local, state and national issues. She retired in 1997, but continued writing a weekly column that appeared in the Maine Sunday Telegram through 2008.

John Porter, a former reporter, editorial writer and editor at the Press Herald and Sunday Telegram, joined the editorial department when Mrs. Grape retired. Porter said in a phone interview Thursday that she taught him how to write opinion pieces.

“She was the most important mentor I ever had in my career,” Porter said. “The most stunning characteristic about Nancy was that she had that rare, really high combination of having a very high intellectual capacity, matched by an equally high capacity for compassion. She had it all. She had the head and the heart and was able to bring that to her work in a way that really drew readers in. Her columns were relentlessly logical, but very much on a human scale. She just had that talent.”

Mrs. Grape also wrote book reviews for the Sunday Telegram through 2013. She was described as both funny and a pleasure to work with. Porter said she was an ardent feminist.

“She really represented women and women’s issues in a way that was really effective,” he said. “It was an important passion for her.”

Mrs. Grape attended Auburn schools and graduated from Edward Little High School in 1950. She went on to Bates College, where she earned a degree in 1955.

She later received a masters degree in journalism from Columbia University.

In her early years, she worked summers and nights at the Lewiston Sun Journal covering state news and general assignment reporting.

From 1975 to 1982, Mrs. Grape was a political writer and columnist for The Lewiston Evening Journal. She was also a regular panelist on Maine Public Broadcasting System’s Maineweek public affairs program.

She was a loving wife of Donald H. Grape for 42 years. It was a second marriage for both of them and they raised three children in Auburn until moving to south Freeport in 1983.

Carol Grape, of Littleton, Colorado, described her mother Thursday as a loving and intelligent woman who was passionate about politics and family.

“It was kind of great,” she said. “She was very liberal. My dad was a fiscal conservative, but he was also a feminist. We always had great dinner conversations. Those are fond memories. Both she and my dad were excellent cooks.”

The couple moved to California in 2006 to be closer to their children and grandchildren. Her husband died on May 23, 2014.

Her daughter said one of her favorite times of year was Christmas. The Grapes hosted Christmas in Maine for many years.

“She loved (having) everyone together,” she said.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in her memory to the Nancy N. Grape Summer Internship Award at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. According to its website, the fund supports an unpaid internship in community development or social change in a domestic or international venue.

Mrs. Grape is survived by her daughters Carol Grape and her husband Michael D’Innocente, of Littleton, Colorado; Cathy Grape of San Jose, California; and Caroline Nason Mitchell and her husband, Christopher Mitchell. She also leaves her grandchildren: Cole, Quinn, and Ellery Mitchell of Redwood City, California.  

Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: MelanieCreamer

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