I lost a friend recently. John Grant of Oakland, Maryland. I wanted to write about him then, but we had illness and injury affecting this household for more than a month. Many things suffered, including this blog.
I thought of John Grant as a modern day Renaissance man. He was a writer, historian, musician, Episcopalian pastor, volunteer fireman, civil engineer with the B&O railroad, World War II veteran, and so much more.
I met him when my son took bagpipe lessons with the local pipe band . He was Pipe sergeant with the Garrett College Pipes and Drums (now Garrett Highlands Pipes and Drums). His friend Fred Thayer, Pipe Major, started the band with Chip Evans. John was a member of their first class and stayed with the band. I had a dream (shades of Star Wars) that John, Fred and Chip were standing on a mountaintop, watching today’s pipes and drums marching by.
John was named Clan Chieftain of the McHenry Highland Festival in 2005. Besides playing with the host band, he was a member of the McHenry Highland Festival Board of Directors for a period of time, gave workshops about bagpipes at the festival and also appeared on a segment of MPT to discuss the festival and bagpipe music in Garrett County. After leading the Autumn Glory parade, John and his wife welcomed band members to their home to watch the rest of the parade in comfort. Many others would stop by that day, including politicians, to have a word with the Grants.
As a reporter, I learned to appreciate John’s talents and knowledge. I consulted him about historical information and quoted him often. He was a man of many interests: teaching and writing about local history, leading walks to Maryland’s highest point (which is located in Garrett County), helping with charitable efforts and was active in many community organizations.
He published a book and wrote numerous articles for the historical society’s publication, The Glades Star. He taught classes at Garrett College and never tired of sharing his knowledge and interests with others.
He was a kind man, a man who made the world and people’s lives better. He and Jean always made me feel welcome. I am sure there are many who can say the same thing.
While writing this I came across a quote by Alex Haley that sums up some of how I feel about the loss of John Grant. “Every death is like the burning of a library.” He made the world a better place. We lost a lot when we lost him. He will not be forgotten.