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Robert E. Grant

October 31, 2014
Lake Placid News

Robert England Grant, son of Benjamin W., and Violet Rowell Grant, passed away on Thursday, Oct. 23, at the age of 89.

He was born on Nov. 10, 1924 in Albany.

Bob established a love of the outdoors early in life through fishing and trapping in the then rural area outside of Albany.

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Upon his graduation from Bethlehem Central High School, Bob entered Brown University, but left in his freshman year after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 to join the Navy. He earned his wings as a Naval Aviator and flew a PBY Catalina on anti-submarine patrols for the duration of the World War II.

Following WWII, he returned to Brown and graduated in 1948. Two years later, he graduated from the Harvard School of Business Administration where he earned an MBA.

In 1951, Bob married Cynthia Ann Kirk, for a marriage that lasted 63 years.

Bob began his business career with Kidder, Peabody & Co. in New York, and then Chicago working in investment banking and later in acquisitions. In 1957 he joined Plough, Inc., the inventors of Coppertone suntan lotion, and St. Joseph's aspirin, in Memphis as their Financial Vice President. And, from 1960 - 1969, he was group vice president for Textron, Inc. in Providence, R.I. He was instrumental in adding Bell Helicopter, and Speidel (twistaflex watch bands) to Textron.

Bob left Textron to form Grant Capital Management Corporation, a venture capital firm which, soon after incorporation, made a significant investment in American Bakeries, Inc., the third-largest wholesale baking company in the United States. He was elected CEO and CFO and shepherded a remarkable financial turnaround for the company. He remained with American until his retirement.

While in Rhode Island, Bob served the community in a wide range of civic positions, including President of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra, as Chairman of the Governor's Energy Conservation Committee, as a member of the Rhode Island Commission for Higher Education Facilities, as a founding member of the Barrington Presbyterian Church, and as a founding member of the Board of Friends of Brown University's Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology.

In 1983, Bob and Cynthia moved permanently to Lake Placid, a community they'd become very fond of since their first visit here in 1950.

As a resident of Lake Placid, Bob continued his commitment to community serving on a number of the area's non-profit boards including St. Francis Academy, Paul Smith's College, and the Center for Music Drama and Art. He joined the CMDA as the Board President during the Center's financially turbulent times during the early 1980s and is graciously credited with contributing significantly to the CMDA's return to solvency.

One of his most forward-looking contributions was his, and Cynthia's, decision to deed a parcel of land that included the iconic rock face of Cobble Hill, visible throughout much of the Village, and adjacent to Northwood School to the Nature Conservancy, thus protecting from development one of the more frequently used hiking trails in the area.

Among Bob's many qualities was a sense of adventure demonstrated early on at the age of 16 when with $100 earned over the previous two years, he hitchhiked from his home in Albany to Mexico. A few years later, he and a friend were believed to be the first to travel by motorcycle over the proposed route of the Pan American Highway to Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. The visit was unintentionally extended for three weeks due to a revolution in Nicaragua. He supported the journey by writing newspaper articles describing his travels for such publications as the New York Herald Tribune, and the Christian Science Monitor, which were filed at one U.S. Embassy, with payment received at the next.

And, although business demanded significant travel throughout his adult life, his lifelong interest in learning about others moved Bob to travel to such locations as Mozambique (today's Zimbabwe) with friend Jim Lovell, Commander of Apollo 13, to time spent with his family in a remote Eskimo village 75 miles from Siberia, and years later spending 25 days navigating the Noatak River, described by National Geographic as one of the most remote rivers on the North American Continent, from its headwaters to the sea.

Bob believed strongly in fairness, and demonstrated this value throughout his business and personal life. Notably, he volunteered as a poll watcher in Little Rock during the height of racial tensions in this country.

His personality was warm and engaging, and he was a loyal friend who quietly helped many in times of need.

A lifelong athlete, Bob participated in all manner of sports, including being a member of the Navy's Pre-Flight Boxing Team, and in later years particularly enjoyed competing in the Empire State Games in which he won numerous gold, silver, and bronze medals for swimming.

Bob is survived by his wife, Cynthia; his sons: Robert and his wife, Pat, David and Jim, all of Lake Placid; his great joys also included his grandchildren: Elizabeth, Caroline, Charlie, and David and his wife Marya; and four great grandchildren: Noah, Greta, Azalea, and Judah. His brother, Richard, lives in Los Angeles.

A celebration of Bob's life will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 1 at St. Eustace Episcopal Church in Lake Placid.

Relatives and friends are invited to "light a candle" and share a memory or leave condolences at www.mbclarkfuneralhome.com.

 
 

 

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