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Jim Grant’s greatest journey

Jim Grant reflects on long life of community service

  • Jim Grant in his office at Staff Development for Educators in Peterborough. April 19, 2016 (Benji Rosen / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Benji Rosen—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript...

  • Jim Grant in his office at Staff Development for Educators in Peterborough. April 19, 2016 (Benji Rosen / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Benji Rosen—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript...

  • Jim Grant in his office at Staff Development for Educators in Peterborough. Staff photo by Benji Rosen

  • Jim Grant in his office at Staff Development for Educators in Peterborough. Staff photo by Benji Rosen



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, May 02, 2016

When his doctor told him his cancer was terminal, Jim Grant says he skipped over the stages of denial, anger, bargaining and depression. He accepted it, he said, because it’s like Frank Sinatra sings: “Regrets, I’ve had a few. But then again, too few to mention.” 

Grant’s voice trails off as he pauses to think.

“I’ve got no regrets,” he says, in his office at Staff Development for Educators. “I know I put back in more than I took.”

At 74, Grant has dedicated a lifetime to giving, as a husband of 56 years, as a teacher and the founder of Staff Development for Educators, and as a community service volunteer, which he continues even as he receives chemotherapy to extend his life. 

Grant, by his own admission, first willingly volunteered for community service when he was 11. Before that, he begrudgingly listened to his parents lecture him on the importance of charity and contributing to Peterborough. His father was a policeman, a firefighter and a Boy Scouts volunteer. His mother lent a hand to those less fortunate.

Grant remembers when he was an 11-year-old Boy Scout, and brought food to a family who’d lost their home in a fire. His troop leader Rober Weather gave him two instructions: Don’t stare, and be grateful.

In high school, Grant had no time for volunteering, he says, because he was too busy “chasing girls.” Myer Goldman, a pharmacist whose portrait hangs in Grant’s corner office, knocked him back on track. 

“Your parents can say something to you. But, when a mentor like this guy … he was into paying it forward,” says Grant. 

Grant worked at the pharmacy on Main Street shortly after he graduated from Peterborough High School. It was there Goldman taught him the arts of charity and giving. “Don’t wait” and “don’t be judgmental” were credos Grant said Goldman imparted to him.

“I look at his picture everyday to remember to thank him for my gifts,” said Grant.  

A town legacy

It was the accumulation of these experiences that shaped Grant into a charity-minded adult. He is the longest-serving firefighter in the Peterborough Fire Department, and has been a Salvation Army volunteer for over four decades. He is also co-founder of Monadnock Worksource, which employs those with developmental disabilities. In the organization’s early days, it operated out of the former fire station, and, by employing adults who society might have forsaken, gave about two dozen people a job and, with that, a purpose.

One of the charities Grant speaks fondly of is the Peterborough Sunshine Fund, which he also co-founded. Started in 2009, the organization provides emergency relief for those in need for anything from car repairs, to dental work, to gasoline stipends to drive to medical appointments. 

Grant is committed to the town, too, so much so that his license plate is “LUVPBRO,” a gift from his wife. He is Peterborough’s longest serving fence viewer (an elected position), as well as co-founder of the Patriotic Committee. Although it is a committee independent of the town, it only serves the town. For years it oversaw the Memorial Day parade; it is responsible for, among other things, the horse trough monument in front of the Town House, service plaques and retired guns near the Memorial Gates. 

Making a difference

Grant has lived a full enough life here that he said he is asked why he doesn’t retire to Florida. “I don’t play golf,” he said. “I need to live in a community where I can give back and make a difference.” 

Lillian, his wife, and countless friends, meanwhile, are giving back to him, as he receives treatment for mesothelioma. Jim and Lillian look at the time he has left as wrapping up unfinished business. 

“I am so grateful and at peace with putting closure on things,” he says. Besides, he adds, he is comforted by the Buddhist belief of rebirth, something Meas Rouen, his friend and fellow firefighter, taught him. 

“It’s been a great journey of 74 years. At the end of the journey, you accept, ‘I've had my term. It's been a great term.”