Chaplain Charlie Grant was an icon and a pillar of Sterling Rescue, who will be missed by all and remembered forever.
Chaplain Charlie Grant, 87, passed away of natural causes on December 6, 2023. “That is the day to which I most look forward,” he once said, “when I will sleep in the arms of Jesus, knowing that when I wake up, I will see Him face to face.”
When Chaplain Grant was honored in 2012 by the Loudoun Times-Mirror as “Citizen of the Year,” they wrote: “Charlie Grant is a larger-than-life local legend. Standing approximately 5-feet-tall yet toting a personality that can easily fill a room, Grant has been among the most influential men Loudoun County has seen in the last 40 years. His emergency radio, like an extension of his body, always blares. It’s always with him due to his (decades-long) work as a senior chaplain for the Sterling Volunteer Fire Department.” The then-chief of the Sterling Rescue Squad, Byron Andrews, was quoted as saying: “Not surprisingly, many call Chaplain Charlie Grant a saint. He is the hardest-working and most compassionate man I have ever encountered.”
Charlie was born in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania, on February 11, 1936, and graduated from Jeannette High School in 1954. He attended Alderson-Broaddus College in Philippi, West Virginia, and worked as an orderly at Broaddus Hospital during his college years.
When he first saw his bride, fellow hospital worker Virginia (Ginny) Rexrode of Rainelle, West Virginia, he thought she was “the most beautiful girl in our school.” Then he found she was just as committed to charitable work among the poor as he was, and he fell forever in love with her. They married in 1955, and happily served the Lord in partnership for the next 68 years.
After completing training at the Baptist Bible Seminary in Johnson City, New York, Charlie, with Ginny at his side, led congregations in New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, before moving to Sterling, Virginia, in January 1969. He founded Grace Baptist Church and was its pastor for 54 years. Over those years, his ministry included a school, Grace Christian Academy, which operated for 26 years. He also started a youth ministry/Bible study course at Broad Run High School.
As a businessman, he and Ginny started GAM Printers, Inc., on Church Road in old Sterling in 1976. It not only survived but continues to thrive today under the management of his children.
County-wide charitable work began in 1972 when, in cooperation with other churches, he helped found LINK, which originally stood for Loudoun Interdenominational Network for LINK, which maintained a food pantry for the poor, and assisted them with cash from church collections. Whenever someone was found to be homeless, the County sheriff’s office would take them to Charlie and Ginny’s house. “He would let them live in his house for a few days or a few years,” The Gazette reported in a Grant profile entitled “Loudoun County’s Guardian Angel.”
Charlie went on to found Good Shepherd Alliance of shelters and thrift stores to support the poor. To assist the underserved with transportation, Charlie also helped found the Virginia Regional Transit Authority, and guided its early years and where, until his passing, he served as Chairman Emeritus.
Charlie’s passion for serving the community involved many years of chaplain support for the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, Sterling Volunteer Fire Company, Sterling Volunteer Rescue Squad, and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Fire & Police. Charlie joined the Sterling Rescue shortly after his sons had joined the squad. It was during this time that he saw the need for better support of first responders, either on the scene of calls or supporting them afterwards. This included the delicate task of responding to families in need during difficult times following a critical emergency, fire, or heart-wrenching traffic accidents – all of which often involved fatalities.
His work eventually led to the establishment of the Loudoun County Fire and Rescue Chaplain’s Program where, until his passing, he served as Chairman Emeritus.
Not all of Charlie’s activities were associated with traumatic events. He had the honor of marrying many first responders or providing words of comfort at numerous funerals.
Among other tributes, Charlie’s service was recognized with the Gold Life Membership with the Sterling Volunteer Fire Company, Life Member of the Sterling Volunteer Rescue Squad, the Clark J. Deener Memorial Award, Loudoun County Fire and Rescue Hall of Fame and the ICMA National Chaplain of the Year Award. “Not bad for a young old guy!” he would laugh.
Charlie also served one term on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors (1991-1995).
Charlie is survived by his wife of 68 years, Virginia (Ginny) Grant; their ten children, Cheryle Livermon (Dr. Jeff Livermon) of New Tazewell, TN; David (Vicki) of Port Charlotte, FL; Daniel (Michelle) of Folsom, CA; Faith, James (Diane), Stephen (Carrie) and Susanna of Sterling; Dr. Joel (Kim) of Stephens City, VA; Samuel (Chadney) of Goodyear, AZ; and Nathaniel of Ashburn, VA.
He is also survived by two sisters, Charlotte “Betsy” Dunn of Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and Leona Mangan of West Palm Beach, FL. He is preceded in death by his parents, Lester and Caroline Grant; his sister, Jeannie Immesberger; his brother, Dr. Lester Grant, and his great granddaughter Sarina Parsa.
Charlie considered it to be his “great privilege and joy” to father his ten children, who “in return” gave him 24 grandchildren and 27 great-grandchildren at the time of his passing.
A “Celebration of Life” will be held at the Reston Bible Church in Sterling, VA on February 9, 2024, at 1 pm. A public visitation will start at Noon. A reception will be held at Patton Hall in Sterling following the service. A private family interment will be held on February 10, the following day, at Sterling Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family is asking donations to be made to one of Charlie’s favorite charities: Sterling Volunteer Fire Company, Sterling Volunteer Rescue Squad, or the Charles Grant Charities (https://www.charlesgrantcharities.org).