Jesse Ray Grant Jr., M. D. completed his earthly life on Monday, March 13, 2017, at the age of 65. He was born at Alexander’s Clinic in Forsyth, Monroe County on Sept. 16, 1951, the son of Jesse Ray and Doris Vaughn Grant.
J.Ray/Jesse graduated with honors from Mary Persons High School in 1969 where he was President of the Senior Class, Captain of the MPHS Bulldog football and basketball teams, and member and officer of numerous clubs. Grant represented MPHS at Boys State in 1968, in District Declamation and Debate, and on the staffs of the Merry-Go-Round (school newspaper) and Empescope (school yearbook). Among the honors he received, in addition to academic honors, were being named Senior Superlative (Hardest Worker, Most Studious, Most Likely to Succeed), Jaycee Outstanding Citizen, and Outstanding Senior Boy.
After graduating from MPHS, J. Ray played football at Furman University where he attended two quarters until the death of his father. He came home to care for his seriously ill mother while attending Mercer University for one quarter before transferring to The University of Georgia. At UGA he was a charter member of the TKE fraternity. In 1973, Grant graduated cum laude from UGA with a Bachelor of Science degree. Due to the influence of family physician Dr. George Alexander, Grant attended Emory University School of Medicine, graduating in 1977 with the Doctor of Medicine.
Jesse completed his Residency in Family Medicine at Roanoke Memorial Hospitals, serving as Chief Family Practice Resident in 1979-1980. While at Roanoke, he met and married the love of his life, Leigh Moore Hauser. He was named a Diplomate of the National Board of Medical Examiners in 1978 and in 1980 was recognized by the American Academy of Family Physicians for successful completion of an Approved Residency in Family Practice. Dr. Grant was licensed to practice Medicine and Surgery in the State of Georgia in 1980 and also in 1980 was named a Diplomate by the American Board of Family Practice, which he retained continuously. He joined the American Academy of Family Physicians in June 1982 was named a Fellow in October 1982.
After completion of his Residency, the Grants moved back to Forsyth where he joined the practice of Dr. Patton Smith. This partnership continued for 27 years until Dr. Smith’s retirement. In August 1989, Grant was featured in Emory Medicine, the Medical School magazine. The author of this article described his enthusiasm with being able to raise his family and practice medicine in his hometown. Also described was Grant’s office, which was complete with the same baby scales on which he was weighed by Dr. George Alexander when he was born. During this time he taught in the family practice residency program at Mercer University School of Medicine and worked in clinical situations with these residents.
In addition to work in his office, Monroe County Hospital, and home visits, Grant served the community in a variety of ways. He made regular visits to the Health Department’s family planning clinic, a nearby nursing home, a prenatal health clinic, the Monroe County Jail, the Al Burrus State Correctional Facility, and the health clinic at Rock Springs Church. For many years, Dr. Grant volunteered to conduct pre-athletic physicals for his beloved Mary Persons High School. He was a member of the Monroe County Board of Health for 30 years, serving as its Chairman for several terms. Dr. Grant also served as Chief of Staff of Monroe County Hospital for a number of years.
In 2008, Dr. Grant became associated with Macon Occupational Medicine where he served for seven years, the last five of which he was Medical Director. He was named Outstanding Employee in 2011. In late 2015, Dr. Grant became Medical Director of RiverEdge Behavioral Health Center and has served in that capacity since that time.
Since 1959, Grant has been an active member of Forsyth First Baptist Church. He was ordained as a Deacon in 1981 and served several terms as Chairman of Deacons. He served as a Sunday School Teacher for several decades and chaired numerous church committees.
J. Ray Grant Jr., served on the Monroe County Board of Education continuously for 23 years. He was among the first elected School Board members, winning the District Two seat in the November 1993 election. Since joining the Board in January 1994, he has been re-elected for six terms, the most recent election in 2016 for a term which began January 2017. Dr. Grant served as Chairman of the Board for the past 10 years, having been selected by his fellow Board members in 2007.
During his tenure on the Board, the school system has opened three new schools—Samuel Hubbard Elementary in 1995, Thomas G. Scott Elementary in 2003, and Katherine B. Sutton Elementary in 2009. Every other school building has been upgraded or renovated during Dr. Grant’s tenure. He also led the efforts in recent years to advance and expand the school system’s facilities to pave the way for growth in programs and opportunities for students. In 2009, the school system acquired the Monroe County Education Center (former Monroe Academy). During Dr. Grant’s tenure, Monroe County has expanded its athletic program to include soccer and wrestling and also has instituted a JROTC program. He was a driving force behind the new Monroe County Fine Arts Center which held its first events in December 2016, and in negotiations for the acquisition of 80 acres adjacent to the Board of Education and Mary Persons High School campus which paved the way for additional parking and other projects for the Monroe County Schools. Under Dr. Grant’s leadership, the Monroe County Board of Education in the last several years has been recognized as a Distinguished Board of Education by the Georgia School Boards Association,
Far more than all of these accolades, J. Ray was a family man. He was a beloved husband to his wife, Leigh, and a doting father to his five children, their spouses and his grandchildren. Many of the family’s most cherished memories were of the numerous vacations taken together (his favorite being those in which the whole family would go deep sea fishing or scalloping in the bay), holiday get-togethers (which included time spent with extended family and the annual endeavor to select the perfect Christmas tree), sitting down to dinner as a family just as “Jeopardy!” came on (only to realize he knew more than most of the contestants), golf cart, tractor, and 4-wheeler rides around the farm with the kids (he was convinced that 6 people could safely fit on an ATV), playing practical jokes (like chasing his kids and grandkids around with his “Old Man” mask), or simply the time spent together as a family swapping stories and singing along as he played his vinyl records as loud as the speakers would permit. He was the consummate story teller to anyone who would stop long enough and listen. Whenever planning an outing, it was understood that the departure and ensuing itinerary were subject to “J. Ray Time.” Dr. Grant was especially passionate about the family serving together with the Special Olympics where Jessica competed each year, and her continued involvement with the Monroe County Special Needs Club. Summers were spent gardening with Leigh, fishing with the kids, and family trips to Dickey’s for homemade peach ice cream! Dr. J. Ray Grant Jr. was a wonderful, dearly loved husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, cousin, and physician. He will be greatly missed by the family and community he loved.
Dr. Grant is survived by his wife, Leigh; five children: Jessica Grant, Natalie Grant Estes (and husband Aaron) of Forsyth, Dr. Amelia Grant White (and husband Patrick) of Auburn, Ala., William Barrett Grant (and wife Beth) of Atlanta, and Michael Ray Grant (and wife Sarah) of Atlanta; four grandchildren, Mercer Estes, Rayleigh Estes, Henry White, and Elliott White; sister Dr. Priscilla Grant Doster (and husband Ernest Jackson), nieces Amanda Doster Parks (husband Keith Parks and children Tia Chastain and Liam Parks) of Forsyth, Katherine Doster Fletcher (husband Will and children Carter, Larkin, Emerson, and Willow Fletcher) of Watkinsville; brother-in-law David Hauser of Roanoke, VA; sister-in-law Nancy Hauser (husband Dan Bledsoe and son Max Hauser) of Roanoke, Va., and numerous aunts, cousins, and other relatives.
Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m., Sunday, March 19, 2017, at Monroe County Fine Arts Building. Visitation will be held from 4-7 p.m., Saturday, March 18, 2017, at First Baptist Church of Forsyth in the Sanctuary.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Monroe County Special Needs Club, Inc., 44 East Johnston Street, Forsyth, GA 31029.
Please visit www.monroecountymemorialchapel.com to express tributes.
Monroe County Memorial Chapel has charge of arrangements.