Library bench dedication honors town volunteer

Andra Hall, left, Chair of the Trustees of Stephenson Library  and Valli Hannings of the Friends of the Library unveil the bench in honor of Mary Anne Grant. 

Andra Hall, left, Chair of the Trustees of Stephenson Library  and Valli Hannings of the Friends of the Library unveil the bench in honor of Mary Anne Grant.  STAFF PHOTO BY JESSECA TIMMONS

Friends and family of the late Mary Anne Grant gathered Saturday for the unveiling of a bench in her honor dedicated by the Trustees of Stephenson Library. 

Friends and family of the late Mary Anne Grant gathered Saturday for the unveiling of a bench in her honor dedicated by the Trustees of Stephenson Library.  STAFF PHOTO BY JESSECA TIMMONS

Andra Hall, right, Chair of the Trustees of Stephenson Library, reads the dedication to Mary Anne Grant.

Andra Hall, right, Chair of the Trustees of Stephenson Library, reads the dedication to Mary Anne Grant. STAFF PHOTO BY JESSECA TIMMONS

Deirdre Grant, right, and Rob Grant on the bench at Greenfield’s Stephenson Library dedicated to their mother, Mary Anne Grant, who died in July 2023. 

Deirdre Grant, right, and Rob Grant on the bench at Greenfield’s Stephenson Library dedicated to their mother, Mary Anne Grant, who died in July 2023.  STAFF PHOTOS BY JESSECA TIMMONS

By JESSECA TIMMONS

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 05-17-2024 12:19 PM

Mary Anne Grant, a longtime resident of Greenfield and beloved town volunteer, was remembered Saturday with the unveiling of a stone bench in her honor in front of Stephenson Memorial Library.

“For 40 years, Mary Anne watched every parade in Greenfield from her front porch, right across the street from here,” said Andra Hall, Chair of the Trustees of Stephenson Library. “This bench is positioned so that people can sit here and do the same.”

Grant died Tuesday, July 8, 2023, at the age of 78, after a battle with cancer. She is survived by her daughter, Deirdre Grant, of New York City, her son, Rob Grant, his wife, Catherine Fregosi, and their children, Harper and Holden Grant, all of Hillsborough; her best friend, Mary Anne Beard of Greenfield, and extended family. She was predeceased by James Grant, her husband of 42 years, in 2014.

Grant loved to tell stories of her childhood on the Caribbean island of Aruba, where her family lived in the “Lago Colony,” a small community populated by the employees of the large oil refinery on the island and their families. Grant recalled the international community as an idyllic setting, where families often gathered at the neighborhood’s beach and enjoyed English traditions such as tea and cricket.

Grant was a longtime nurse. After graduating from the Catholic University, she joined the U.S. Navy and worked for two years at Bethesda Naval Hospital.

“Mary Anne was at Bethesda during Vietnam. She took care of the wounded soldiers coming back from the war,” recalled Grant’s best friend, Mary Anne Beard.

The “two Mary Annes,” who met as nurses at Monadnock Hospital, were a familiar sight around Greenfield after they both retired.

“You never saw one without the other,” said Greenfield resident Kathy Seigars.

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After finishing her service the Navy, Grant moved to Connecticut, where she met her husband, James. The Grant family settled in Greenfield in 1982, raising their children, Rob and Deirdre, and creating deep ties in the area. Mary Anne Grant served as a nurse for over three decades, with her last full time position as Director of Nursing at Good Shepherd Nursing Home in Jaffrey.

“Mary Ann was a very good nurse,” said Marjorie Hobbs, a longtime friend who worked with Grant at Monadnock Community Hospital.

In her retirement, Grant threw herself into community life. She was a founding and sustaining member of the Greenfield GIVers, a founder of the Friends of the Library, a member and founder of the Fire Department Auxiliary, and a member of both the original Oak Park Committee which flourished in the 90’s and of the new committee founded in the past five years.

In 2021, Grant was honored as grand marshal of Greenfield Fire and Ice Parade organized by the Greenfield Fire Department.

Mary Anne Beard said that Grant was determined to care of her husband, Jim, after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

“She said, ‘I’m a nurse. I’m going to take care of him’. She took care of him in their home, until the day he died; she refused to let him go to a nursing home,” Beard said. “It was very difficult, very hard work.”

Valli Hannings of the Friends of Stephenson Library said the Friends and the Trustees came up with the idea of dedicating a bench to Grant together.

“Mary Anne was just very special. She was one of the first people I met in town, and she was just the kindest and sweetest woman,” Hannings said.

Andra Hall, Chair of the Trustees of Stephenson Library, read a heartfelt dedication to Grant at Saturday’s ceremony, which was attended by dozens of friends and family members.

“Mary Anne will forever hold a special place in our hearts, and this bench will serve as a lasting tribute to her life and legacy,” Hall said. “Mary Anne touched lives of so many with her kindness compassion, and love. She touched the lives of so many, and her spirit will continue to inspire us all, as she watches us from above.”