Paul Gruchow, a conservationist and author who recently completed the first draft of a book about depression, died on Feb. 22 from a drug overdose at the age of 56. A sufferer of depression, Gruchow spent several years in and out of hospitals for psychiatric treatment, and had attempted suicide four times since 2001.
As a child growing up on a Minnesota farm, Gruchow dreamed of living a religious life. He attended the University of Minnesota and served as editor of the Minnesota Daily newspaper, but dropped out of school to take a job as an aide to Rep. Don Fraser (D-Minn.) in Washington D.C. When he returned to his home state, Gruchow became a news and public affairs director for Minnesota Public Radio, and worked as a reporter and managing editor at the Worthington Daily Globe newspaper.
Gruchow’s final years were spent teaching creative writing classes at St. Olaf College and Concordia College, and writing books that championed the rural, Minnesota landscape. He penned “Journal of a Prairie Year,” “The Necessity of Empty Places,” “Travels in Canoe Country,” “Boundary Waters: The Grace of the Wild,” “Worlds Within a World” and “Grass Roots: The Universe of Home,” which won the Minnesota Book Award. Gruchow also contributed articles to the Utne Reader, The New York Times and The Star Tribune.