Post Co.'s Graham and Wife to Separate

By Frank Ahrens
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 10, 2007

Donald E. Graham, chairman and chief executive of The Washington Post Co., is separating from his wife of 40 years, Mary Wissler Graham, he said yesterday.

No comment was given on whether the two will seek a divorce. Mary Graham has divided her time between Washington, New York and Boston; Donald Graham continues to live in Washington.

In a one-paragraph statement, Graham called the separation amicable and said, "There will be no further comment from the company or the Graham family."

Donald and Mary Graham were married in 1967 and have four grown children.

The separation follows Graham's substantial stock gift to his wife last month.

The Graham family controls the publicly owned Post Co. through two classes of stock, one of which is the voting stock that is not publicly traded. Early last month, Graham converted nearly 400,000 shares of that stock, worth about $325 million, into shares that can be sold on the open market.

At the end of the month, he gave 94,300 of the nonvoting shares, worth about $77 million, to Mary Graham, some of which was placed into a foundation she administers.

"This will have no impact on the company," Post Co. vice president Ann McDaniel said yesterday. Post Co. stock closed down more than 3 percent yesterday at $823.50. In addition to The Washington Post newspaper, The Post Co. owns the Kaplan education business, Cable One television system, six television stations and Newsweek magazine.

Donald Graham, 62, succeeded his mother, Katharine Graham, as Post Co. chief executive in 1991 and as chairman in 1993. Prior to that, he had been general manager and publisher of The Post. After graduating from Harvard, Graham served in Vietnam and on the D.C. police force. He joined The Post in 1971 as a reporter. Donald Graham's maternal grandfather, Eugene Meyer, purchased The Post in 1933.

Mary Graham, 62, is a writer and author. She holds a law degree from Georgetown University and a bachelor's from Harvard-Radcliffe, where she and Donald Graham met. She has written books published by the Brookings Institution, including 1999's "The Day After Earth Day." She is the co-director of the Transparency Policy Project and is a research fellow at the Kennedy School's Taubman Center at Harvard, focusing on such issues as health and safety regulations.

"It's ironic that on Amazon you can get quick, accurate, pretty complete information about any book that you want," Graham said during a May interview on PBS's "NewsHour" after publication of her most recent book, "Full Disclosure." "You can learn what other readers thought about it. But if you try to find information about your drinking water or about a restaurant's safety, you simply can't find it. It's very, very difficult to find."

She is also a director of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the benefactor of the annual "genius" grants.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company