Throughout his very active life, Bob Grant managed to balance his varied ambitions, family and work goals with many civic and humanitarian efforts.
He was born into one of Saginaw’s oldest families. His great-grandfather, Addison Brewer, came to Saginaw in 1859 as a surveyor and stayed to become involved in the lumber business and in real estate. A prime example is the Brewer Arcade which still stands in downtown Saginaw.
Bob’s primary business interest, the Grant Grocer Company was first established as a purveyor of provisions to the lumber camps.
Bob was born in Saginaw on July 4, 1915. He attended Hoyt, Central Junior and Saginaw High Schools. At Saginaw High, he was class president his first two years and valedictorian of his graduating class.
He graduated from Northwestern University’s School of Commerce in 1937 and went into business with his father.
At the time, the Grant Grocer Company was a small wholesale company. Under Bob’s leadership, it grew into a nationally recognized institutional food service. In 1940, Bob introduced frozen foods to Michigan. Older Saginawians remember the wonder of frozen peas in mid winter. Bob was elected president of the National Frozen Food Association, headquartered in New York City.
He also was a director and officer of Central Warehouse Company (founded by his grandfather Will Brewer), Saginaw Warehouse Properties, the Brewer Company and Michigan National Bank.
He still managed to find time to be active in many civic and community organizations. He was a member of the Police-Fire Civil Service Commission and was its chairman 1949-1950. He was a two-term member and president of the Saginaw Board of Education in 1950-1952. He was a founder of the Saginaw Downtown Improvement Company and its president from 1962-64. He also served as president of the Downtown Kiwanis Club and the Saginaw Club.
He was chairman of the Saginaw Council of Christians and Jews, the United Negro College Fund, the Saginaw High Stadium Fund Drive and the 1965 Saginaw School Millage Campaign.
He was also active in Boystown Basketball, Junior Achievement, Youth Protective Services, Junior Red Cross and Pit and Balcony. He organized reunions of his Saginaw High graduating class in 1932 and 1938, and was chosen as the school’s Distinguished Alumnus in 1979.
A lifelong member of the First Congregational Church, he served on its board and was elected president in 1957. On the national scene, he was appointed by President Nixon as advisor-at-large to the Small Business Administration in 1970, following attendance at the White House Conference on Food, Nutrition and Health in 1969.
He was married to the former Patricia Lord and they had three children.
Bob Grant died in 2002, but the charitable trust he had established is still going today.
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