On November 24, 1927, Richard “Dick” Holbrook Grant was born to Horace and Elizabeth Grant in New Briton, Connecticut. It was Thanksgiving Day and Dick’s mother Elizabeth was entertaining family members “when she had to get up and go to the hospital. I always thought this was funny,” said Dick. “I had trouble at birth and needed a transfusion; I surprised them all and survived.” He was glad she went to the hospital to deliver.
His father was a teacher and his mother stayed at home and cared for Dick and siblings Robert, Leighton, and Madeline. The Grants moved back to Columbia Falls when Dick was about 6 months old. They lived in the upper part of town called Grantville, then moved down into the town and had a house built.
As children, they played cowboys and Indians, made snow forts and threw snowballs, went sliding, and swam in the Pleasant River. Dick went to school at Columbia Falls Elementary School, followed by Columbia Falls High School. There were 35 students in the school. Nine graduated in his class. Dick recalls that it was during World War II and many of the teachers had gone to war, thus it was not a good education.
At 18 years old Dick joined the United States Army. The draft was on and he took the gamble to enlist rather than be drafted; that way he knew what was expected for a time commitment. Dick completed his basic training in Virginia, and then went on to Army Finance School at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indiana. The war was over and he was sent to the Philippines on the “slowest damn boat you ever went on.” He said, “We went under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. That was very impressive.” In total, he served 18 months - 6 months in the states and 12 months in the Philippine Islands. He started in Manilla and then went down to a lower island called Leyte where he spent the rest of his time. The country was destroyed by the war. “It was devastating,” Dick said, remembering the things he saw.
Dick’s job in the Army was in finance. He paid servicemen and settled war claims. On weekends, their group would go to the motor pool and sign out a vehicle to go up to the mountains. Dick recalls, “We always got transportation, even though the men in the motor pool sometimes needed to be reminded to do a favor or two.” Dick’s particular group happened to be responsible for their paychecks. “It was a sort of mild blackmail,” Dick says.
When Dick returned from the Philippines, his father Horace bought a building in Columbia Falls and started Grant Brothers. Horace looked at this as an opportunity to employ his sons. The store began as a filling station and later developed into a small grocery store. His father eventually sold the business, and the buyers closed it for good.
After working for his father, Dick decided to go to college. He knew it would be difficult due to his poor early education; however, he graduated from University of Maine at Orono in 1953. His father had been a teacher, and inspired by him, he wanted to be a teacher as well. He taught at Shead High School in Eastport his first year and decided he wasn’t going to teach again. A student recommended him to the school in Sullivan and he went there and “had two wonderful years at Sumner High School.” He went back to University of Maine for his Masters in Education which he completed in 1957.
Dick taught at the Campus Training School (an elementary school on the University of Maine Machias campus) from 1957 to 1963. “It was a nice school and I had a wonderful time and I loved teaching there.” Dick’s next step in education was taking the superintendent certification exam. He became the Superintendent in East Corinth. He later returned to Columbia Falls and became the Superintendent of Schools for SAD 37.
Dick met Patricia Bayley in 1957. He recalls, “She and her mother were at the Bonnie Brook Restaurant in Harrington. I met her there and fell in love.” Dick and Patricia resided in Columbia Falls and had two sons together, Alan and Bayley; Dick adopted Patricia’s son from a previous marriage, Jesse. He passed away when he was 37 years old. The couple were married 48 years when Patricia passed away.
The Grant family lived in Bangor when Dick was the superintendent of the East Corinth Schools. They lived in that area for about 7 years. According to Dick, “the boys were not happy there. They wanted to be in the country.” When they moved back to Columbia Falls, Dick became the superintendent in Columbia Falls at School Administrative District 37. The boys went to grammar school in Columbia Falls and then to Narraguagus High School, where they graduated. He retired from SAD 37 in 1981.
Dick is very proud of his family. Both of his sons went on to complete their post-secondary education. Alan completed a two-year program for carpentry, and Bayley went to a community college in Bangor and went into law enforcement. Upon graduation, both boys married. Alan married a wonderful woman, Violet, and Bayley married a lovely lady, Rebecca. Dick’s children have blessed him with four grandchildren, and his grandchildren have blessed him with great-grandchildren. Alan and Violet had 2 boys, Jonathan and Benjamin, and Bayley and Rebecca had 2 girls, Elizabeth and Bethany who are named after their grandmothers. Jonathan has three children. He has twins, Nicholas and Isabelle, and also a little girl named Emily. Benjamin just recently added “a sweet baby girl to the family named Breanna,” Dick says. Education is important to Dick and he is proud to say each of his grandchildren are college graduates.
Dick and Patricia had always dreamt of running a Bed & Breakfast, so upon retirement, they began looking for a building in Bar Harbor that they could renovate. Finally, they found the perfect spot! They purchased an old nursing home for $100,000. Eventually, they completed the renovation and opened Holbrook Inn (named after Dick) in 1980. With the stress of owning a business and dealing with the up-keep, Dick recalls having nights where he and his wife would lay awake in bed and wonder, “what have we done?”. With both of the boys having other dreams to pursue, Dick knew that the B&B wouldn’t end up staying in the family. They owned Holbrook Inn for three years, selling it in 1983. However, Dick said that the building is still being used today. You can find Holbrook House on MDI Avenue in Bar Harbor. Once they sold the Inn, they moved back to Columbia Falls where they built a Cape Cod style house. Dick was excited, because this was the first house that Alan was able to build from the foundation up. “We lived in that house and then Patricia passed away. I stayed there alone for seven years after that, but it was a bad move.” Dick says that eventually he ended up having to have someone come in to clean the house for him. He also had a young man come to split and stack firewood so he could heat his home for the winter months. Tired of living alone, he moved into a spare bedroom in Alan and Violet’s home.
Dick is proud of his commitment to the Ruggles House. He has been a board member for 40 years, and was even president of the board for a time being.
Dick came to live at Maine Veterans' Homes in Machias in August of 2016. He enjoys his time with friends that he has made here. Very often you’ll find Dick reading a novel, playing Bingo, or listening to one of our various music groups. He has been a great addition to our family here and we enjoy our time together.
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