A Life Remembered: Brian Grantham

Isabel Hanewicz, RHStoday Editor-in-Chief

Robinson graduate Brian Grantham, class of 1987, lives on in the memories of those he touched.

Brian Grantham, a 1987 graduate of Robinson High School, passed away March 30, 2015, from metastatic colon cancer. He worked as the athletic director for the Alonso High School Ravens until his death.Now, the community remembers a man that spent the majority of his life dedicated to helping his students and athletes succeed.

FIRST, A KNIGHT

At Robinson, Brian Grantham played defense on the varsity football team under his father, head coach and shop teacher David Grantham.

That’s where history teacher Tomas Montero met Grantham. Montero was a year behind Grantham, but they both played football- Montero a center, Grantham a guard.

“He always showed me the way and accepted me and helped me,” said Montero.

Montero and Grantham coached wrestling together at Robinson for a few years, although Grantham moved to different schools while Montero stayed at Robinson. Despite this, the connection between the two remained.

“Because we’ve got families and lived in different places, you know, you grow out of touch,” said Montero.

 “But every time we saw each other, it was, you know, the same two kids that grew up here at Robinson. To us that was always how it was going to be.”

When remembering Grantham, Montero thinks of his laugh, which he describes as “weasel-like.” Montero will sometimes slip in and out of the present tense when talking about him, the loss still fresh.

“He’s always been a good friend,” said Montero when describing Grantham. “He was a very strong human being physically but [was] a caring and soft guy.”

Even though Grantham has passed away, the connection between the two remains.

“The whole family was just a great family, Robinson through and through,” said Montero. “[His death] breaks my heart every day when I think about it.”

“Once a Knight, Always a Knight.”

Robinson High School Motto

Grantham, Montero and friends at the Junior-Senior Prom in 1987. Grantham, Montero and friends at the Junior-Senior Prom in 1987.

In-Betweens

English teacher Meg Bell first met Grantham in the 90s, when they both taught at Plant High School. There, Grantham also coached football with her husband.


Although she moved back to Robinson, and Grantham to Alonso, their families remained friends through the years.


“When we moved out to North Tampa, about 15 to 16 years ago, he and his wife just dropped everything and came and helped us move,” said Bell, talking about Grantham’s character. “He just was unfailingly kind, he just always had a smile on his face.”


Bell describes Grantham as a person not afraid to say ‘I love you’, and a giver of big hugs.


“Even with everything he was going through with the treatment and the chemo he still stayed so positive,” she said. “I never once talked to him and he gave the slightest sign of being down or thinking he wasn’t going to get better.”


Grantham worked through his illness, said Bell, remaining with Alonso and being a good father for his two young sons, Pierce and Wyatt.


“He was the kindest person, the most generous,” she said. “He stayed upbeat the whole time.”

Gaining His Wings

Grantham’s last position was as the Assistant Principal for Administration at Alonso High School. As an APA, one of his duties was being in charge of the school’s sports programs. In the days following his death, his athletes paid tribute to him their games with announcements and use of his initials. 

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At the Hillsborough County Championship track meet, held Tuesday, March 31, one day after Grantham’s death, Alonso athletes wrote “BG” on their arms in memoriam of Grantham. Above are distance runners Savannah Torres (’15) and Makayla Byrd (’15).

 

“Everyone knew he was really sick, but he was still at school trying to get people qualified so they could come out and compete in their sports,” said Byrd about Grantham, who started working at Alonso in 2002.

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Runner Megan Wetzel (’15) came up with the idea to write Grantham’s intials on their arms.

 

“My first year, he really helped me, because I do two sports at the same time- I run softball and I run track,” said Wetzel of Grantham. “He was always assisting me with schoolwork…he talked to my teachers to make sure I wasn’t doing bad in school. He’s always been there for me.”

 

Wetzel remembers Grantham as a dedicated man.

 

“He was always a really fiery person, but in a good way. He would always be on us, like ‘Hey you got to go out there and you’ve got to represent this school really well,” she said.”He was probably the proudest Raven of all the Ravens at Alonso.”

LEGACY

Through 23 years of teaching in the district, Grantham’s impact extends beyond those who knew him well.


Although Sgt. Major Michael Bargy met Grantham only a few times, he’s known Grantham since the late 80s. Grantham’s father, David, was the shop teacher, and his classroom was next door to Bargy’s.


“They loved the guy at Alonso. Some of the kids have written stuff about him, times they were in minor trouble and he bailed them out and gave them a second chance,” said Bargy about Brian. “Some say he’s the reason they got through high school.”


After Brian graduated and his father retired, Bargy heard about Brian through other teachers.


The elder Grantham came out to the school still, this time bringing not his high-school aged son Brian, but Brian’s kids.


“He brought his grandkids, who are the two boys now left without a father, here,” said Bargy. “Brought them by every time we were out here on Friday for physical fitness day.”

“Fondest memories cling to thee.
We shall bear your spirit forever,
Loyal friends we will always be.”

Alonso High School Alma Mater Song

Brian Grantham is survived by his parents, Sally and David, wife, Lauire and two sons, Pierce Brian and Wyatt David. In his honor, the #56 RHS football jersey, which was his number in high school, will not be used in the 2015 season. To donate to the Brian Grantham Family Memorial Fund, click here.