Grant S. Haines

October 15, 2011|By JANET HEIM |
  • Family members gather for the wedding of Carole and Tim Shearer's daughter, Brynn, in this picture taken four years ago. Grant Haines and his wife, Doris, are to the left of the bride.
Submitted Photo

Grant Haines survived polio as a baby, was given last rites after contracting meningitis during World War II, recovered from malaria and overcame cancer about 20 years ago. Despite that, he lived to age 95, the same age his mother lived to.

"He had about everything you can think of," said Doris Haines, his wife of 57 years.

Grant grew up in Winchester, Va., attending Handley High School and graduating from Shenandoah Valley Academy in 1936. Despite a slight limp from a bout with polio, he was athletic and lettered in football and basketball.

"He was funny. His nickname as a kid was Jolly," said youngest daughter Beverly "Bev" Abeles of Hagerstown.

Oldest daughter Carole Shearer of Drums, Pa., said the ability to find humor in life was one of the greatest gifts her father shared with the family.

"He felt that was the way to overcome things," Carole said. "If you can't laugh about it, what are you going to do?"

Bev said her father loved Pink Panther movies and the humor of Benny Hill.

Grant was the second of four children and the last surviving sibling. He had two brothers and a sister and was proud that the family was able to help put his youngest brother through medical school, Carole said.

Grant's family struggled financially during the Depression as many did. His maternal grandfather, whose last name was Spiher, made his wealth from steel mills in Pennsylvania, but gambled it all away, Bev said.

She remembers her father's sense of humor, which included such sayings as, "I wish I were born rich instead of good looking."

Carole added that her father was "probably the most humble person you'd meet," so it was funny that he would refer to his looks in that way, something he only said to the family.

Others must have seen something in Grant because he was named his class' "Biggest Heartbreaker" in the Handlian "Who's Who" directory in 1935 from Handley High School.

A World War II veteran, Grant served as staff sergeant in the Pacific Theater and was awarded several medals, including the Bronze Star for assuming command of his platoon from January 1945 to June 1945 in the Philippines. His platoon was involved in numerous construction projects.

It was mutual friends in Winchester who arranged for Grant to meet Doris Madden of Hagerstown. Grant was 37 and Doris was 28 when they met.

They hit it off and their first official date was in September 1953 at the Great Hagerstown Fair, Doris said.

Grant told his friend after their first date that he was going to marry Doris, she said. That certainty did lead to a wedding, which took place May 1, 1954, at St. John's Episcopal Church in Hagerstown.

They lived in Winchester the first year of their marriage and Grant managed Valley Seafoods there. He then got a job as a cost estimator at Fairchild Industries and the couple settled in Hagerstown. Grant worked for Fairchild for 26 years, retiring in 1981.

They have two daughters and six grandchildren. Grant and his mother raised his son from a previous marriage until the boy was about 13. He went into the military like his father and retired from the U.S. Navy, but was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1984, Carole said.

Grant and Doris raised their daughters in a home on Bramly Drive, then moved to East Irvin Avenue, before moving to Summerland Manor about six years ago.

Even though Grant no longer could tend the garden and take care of a house, he missed the yard, house projects and the basement where he did his painting, referring to the couple's last residence as Doris' house, Bev said.

"If somebody had a project, he loved to grab a hammer and help," Carole said. "There wasn't a project or repair he didn't think he could tackle."

Doris regretted that Grant had to move to Coffman Nursing Home, but he had started falling and with their size difference, she couldn't keep him at home.

Grant was known for his artistic and musical side. The lifelong member of the Cumberland Valley Art Association taught himself to paint and play the piano, although he studied with local artists later on.

His family members have many of his portraits, landscapes and still-life paintings in their homes.

Grant was part of a Wednesday morning art group that painted together at the old Hagerstown YMCA and was instrumental in getting the Mansion House Art Gallery in City Park started.

"He was the original renaissance man," Bev said. "He could build a house, fix a car, build a bridge, grow a lovely garden. He could do just about anything."

Doris said their marriage succeeded because they had their own interests.

"He kind of went his way and I went mine, but he was home," she said. "He never cared what I did. We just let each other do our own thing."

"They were married forever," Bev said. "We never heard them argue."

Doris said they "bickered" when they disagreed, but didn't fight.

"He was not real demonstrative, but I never doubted that he loved me with all his heart," Doris said.

Grant claimed that he didn't like cats, yet the couple had cats throughout their marriage. He flew home with a stray cat after visiting Bev when she lived in Atlanta, saying it was for Doris.

"He had a soft spot for the animals my mother brought in," Carole said.

Doris said she and Grant enjoyed square dancing in the late 1950s with the Circle Eights Square Dance Club. They discovered, though, after taking ballroom dancing lessons, that their height difference of more than a foot made it difficult for them to dance together.

Doris and Bev said Grant liked taking Sunday drives to look at the leaves and flowers. They often went to Winchester to visit his family. Harpers Ferry, W.Va., was a favorite destination of his.  

Doris called her husband a "homebody," and Bev said her father came home for lunch from Fairchild every day.

"He lived for his kids and his family," Doris said. "His family came first."

Bev remembers seeing her father holding his mother's hand when she was in a nursing home and singing Christmas songs for her. Then, as a grandfather — called Papaw — his grandchildren held a special place in his heart.

"He did love his grandkids," Doris said.

Grant was active at St. John's Episcopal Church, where he served as senior warden and on various committees. He initiated restoration of the church's cemetery on Mulberry Street and got others to help, and was the first person to receive the St. John's Society Award, recently created to honor service to the church.

Grant had been involved with the Halfway Lions Club and Morris Frock American Legion Post 42 over the years.

Grant's health had been deteriorating for several years, but he only had really been ill the past two weeks, Doris said.

"It was quick and peaceful," Bev said. "For all he's been through, it was nice."


Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail runs "A Life Remembered." Each story in this continuing series takes a look back — through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others — at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Grant S. Haines, who died Oct. 8 at the age of 95. His obituary was published in the Oct. 10 edition of The Herald-Mail.

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