MIDDLEWAY — With his father’s death in 1944, James Grantham took over the Tudor Hall farm that had been in his family since before the American Revolution. He was just 20.
“My dad has said it wasn’t easy,” recalled his older son, Amon Grantham, following his father’s passing on Monday at age 89. “But working with his younger brother, he persevered and became very successful, and the farm is still vibrant today. I know he felt awfully good about that.”
Amon Grantham’s son James Grantham said his grandfather’s most cherished accomplishments were his success as a farmer and as a family patriarch.
“His stewardship of the farmland that had been in his family for so long [was important to him],” he said, “and he was proud of his close-knit family and the connection we keep to the community through service and participation.”
After James Grantham retired and turned over the day-to-day farmwork to his sons and nieces and nephews, he remained involved in agriculture issues, community activities and church work, Amon Grantham said.
He also indulged in his love of blacksmithing, Amon Grantham remembered.
“A lot of folks in Middleway have gates and light fixtures and other wrought-iron work that my dad made,” he said. “He learned blacksmithing and welding from his father, who had to make tools and fix machinery through the Depression when things were really tough.”
Amon Grantham said agriculture and family mattered most to his father. “The church was also terribly important, and the Masonic lodge was near the top, too. He was a Master Mason for 68 years.”
Peter Fricke, who came to know Grantham at Grace Episcopal Church and through his efforts to record the history of Middleway, recalled Grantham’s humble attitude, involvement in the community and willingness to serve as a mentor to others.
“He is missed ®C sorely missed,” said Fricke, who met Grantham when he moved to Middleway in 1990. “As an example of how highly regarded he is, look at how the Rt. Rev. Michie Klusmeyer, the bishop of the Episcopal diocese for the state of West Virginia, is coming from Charleston to officiate at his service.
“He was just a wonderful person.”
Over the years at Grace Episcopal, James Grantham served as senior warden, recorder, trustee and as a member of the vestry and white church committee.
A 1941 graduate of Charles Town High School, where he helped to found the school’s Future Farmers of America chapter, James Grantham remained intellectually curious all of his life, Fricke said.
“He subscribed to The Wall Street Journal and read a number of other journals and newspapers,” he said. “Throughout his life, he wanted to keep up on things.”
James Grantham’s knowledge of Middleway was extensive, Fricke said. “We were very fortunate to tape some oral history sessions with him,” he said. “His memory for people and places was just incredible. To have him share what he knew was just a tremendous resource for our village.”
A funeral for James Grantham is set for Friday morning at his church at 159 East St. in Middleway.