In May 1996, she had received the prestigious N.C. Folklife HeritageAward in recognition of her significant contributions to the state'scultural heritage. In 1991, the N.C. Folklore Society had presented herwith its Brown-Hudson award.
Graves was believed to be the state's oldest potter in Seagrove, andsurely she had the longest experience of anyone in the state -- she beganturning pots when she was just 3 years old.
Born into a family of professional potters, she produced her firstcommercial items by the time she was 6. Her father was potter J.B. Cole.
The North Carolina potteries, generally located around the small townof Seagrove, are one of the state's prime tourist sites. Thousands ofpeople drive the country lanes each year, buying dishes, candlestickholders, mugs, vases, birdhouses and other objects formed from theabundant Tar Heel clay.
"Nell Cole Graves has been a monument in the Seagrove pottery communityfor the past 75 years," said Bill Ivey, president of the Friends of theN.C. Pottery Center.
Graves stationed herself behind the spinning wheel to work the wet clayinto shapes ready for the kiln just about every day of her life untilChristmas, when she suffered a stroke.