01/11/08 — Grant did not want a funeral

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Grant did not want a funeral

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on January 11, 2008 1:45 PM

Johnny Grant, the Wayne County native who served as the honorary mayor of Hollywood, was all about the entertainment business and not about himself.

Keeping in that vein, he didn't want any type of funeral service when he died.

Grant, 84, died quietly Wednesday in his suite at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, where the lifelong bachelor had lived for years.

He was the son of the late John William and Leaurah Grant.

His sister, Peggy G. Adams of Goldsboro, said today that there will be no funeral service. There will, however, be a memorial service held later in California.

According to published reports, Grant had requested his ashes be scattered underneath the Hollywood sign.

While no formal arrangements have been made, that did not stop mourners from gathering at Grant's star in Hollywood, Jack Kannan said this morning.

Kannan is the director of Wayne Community College Foundation, which spearheaded a local version of the "Walk of Fame" three years ago for Grant and fellow Goldsboro native, actress Anne Jeffreys.

"They did have a service of sorts in front of his star Thursday and in front of his hand and footprints at Grauman's Chinese Theater," he said.

Kannan said he has talked with another of Grant's sister's, Jane Grant Webber of Goldsboro. Laura Grant Steven-son of Jacksonville and another sibling who pre-deceased Grant complete the family tree.

While there is sadness surrounding the news of Grant's death, there is an ongoing celebration of his life.

Kannan said Mrs. Webber had shared during a conversation about her brother that "he always said that he was the luckiest person alive and what a great life he had."

"He's lived 10 lifetimes," said Kannan, who noted that as recently as last Friday he had been at another presentation ceremony on the Walk of Fame.

"He had not basically changed since his childhood, and he would not have it any other way," he said.

On Wednesday, Kannan said, Grant "met with three people closest to him that night before he went to bed. He told them he wasn't feeling well, went up to his room, fell asleep and died during the night."

If he had lived, Kannan said he believed Grant would have made every effort to return to Goldsboro in the upcoming months.

"He had plans to come to the Paramount opening," he said.

With his passing, the family has expressed an interest in sharing some of the memorabilia from Grant's estate, he added.

Though he outlived many of his classmates, some still have fond memories of his younger years.

Betty Kemp's late husband Bill graduated from Goldsboro High School with Grant in 1940. She recalled him as "just a delightful person."

"He had always wanted to be an announcer and be on the radio, and he just made a big name for himself in Hollywood," she said. "I think he was Mr. Hollywood."

Marjorie James Mitchell was also a classmate. She said all her memories of Grant "are happy and good ones. ... He was always happy, smiling, so nice to be with.

"He sat across the table from me, I can't remember all the classes, but we had several together."