John Andrew Grant, who co-founded Grant Brothers Sales Limited with twin brother Frank following WWII, passed away peacefully at home in Toronto April 15 at the age of 104.
The second of six children born to Francis Grant and Viola Macdonald, he and brother Frank were born in North Sydney, N.S. and raised throughout the province.
The story of Grant Brothers Sales started with a wartime pledge.
“After high school I got my first job working for Commercial Equipment, Irving Oil’s auto parts company,” John A. Grant told Jobber Nation in 2019. “They sent me to Halifax, where I became a salesman after some time on the counter.”
When John A. Grant and his twin brother Frank headed off to World War II – John to the Navy, Frank to the Air Force – they made a pledge: if they both survived, they would start Grant Brothers Sales.
It seemed, he said, like a good industry to start an enterprise in.
“With great relief, we got together after the war in Montreal” – where their parents had moved during the war – “but we decided that Toronto was where we belonged, and moved there two years later.”
Together they launched Grant Brothers Sales Limited, representing manufacturers of auto parts across Canada.
It is now one of Canada’s largest sales organizations in the automotive aftermarket – with traditional and retail automotive units as well as heavy-duty, hardware and merchandising.
Proud of its expansion over the years, he worked there until the age of 83 before passing the company on to family.
Brother Frank passed on more than 25 years ago, after a battle with stomach cancer. John maintained that they didn’t really look too far down the road, though they certainly had hoped their children would carry on the business.
“I know that my son John was born for this business. And it warms my heart that his son Charlie is right there alongside his father,” he told Jobber Nation in 2019.
Today Charlie Grant is president and CEO of Grant Brothers Sales.
John A. Grant is predeceased by his siblings Kay (Paul Gillis), Frank (Lois McGuire), Gerald (Kay Adams and Mary Frances Burke), Mary (Earl Wynands, survived), and Jean (Walter Andersen).
It was at a Royal Canadian Navy ball honouring the visit of Prince Philip to Toronto that he met Daphne Robinson. They married in 1950 and went on to spend 56 years together. They were loving parents to seven children, Tim (Gail Littlejohn), Andrea, Paul (Fiona Powles), Christie (Jai Chauhan, d.), John, Elizabeth (David Nunn) and Bruce (Jean-Vincent Blanchard).
He was a cherished grandfather of Dustin, Jameel, Ravi, Christian, Adam, Charlie, Katie, Corey, Lindsay, and Jensen; great-grandfather of Lucy, Georgia, Isla, Sienna, Giada, Jordan, Jackson and Michael. Along the way, he was a special uncle and friend to many. In his 90s, when one might expect only quiescence, he crossed paths again with Rosemary Rathgeb, whom he had first met in Montreal in 1942 while on leave from the war.
Reuniting almost seven decades later, they knew ten loving and bright years together, inspiring many around them. Well up until his 102nd year, he remained an active Catholic, attending church every morning and a prayer group once a week. He was an avid sportsman, in favour of any social event, and a volunteer for a number of causes.
Positive and kind even as his health dimished, he spent his final years at his uptown Toronto residence where he lived for more than 35 years. The Grant family is grateful for the superb care of Helen Parrenas, Eddie Parrenas, Marlyn Ubaldo, and Ivy Rosaria, along with the entire staff of 2900 Yonge Street.
A funeral mass will be held at Blessed Sacrament Church (24 Cheritan Avenue), on Wednesday, April 19th at 11:00am. Interment at Mount Hope Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations to Blessed Sacrament Church would be greatly appreciated.