A Continuing Legacy: E. Stuart James Grant Trust

Dexter Gilliam ’76, the chief administrative officer of American National Bank, speaks with Cadet Joseph Burke ’18, one of four recipients of the E. Stuart James Grant Scholarship in 2014-2015.Elizabeth Stuart James Grant led a remarkable life. In 1937, when she was 17 years old, her father died, and she had to manage her family’s newspaper, the Danville Register and Bee. In 1941, she became its publisher and developed it into a highly successful publication. When her husband—who became publisher in 1945—died in 1972, Mrs. Grant again assumed the office and held it until her death in 1990. She also was a dynamic leader in civic affairs and philanthropy in the Danville area.

Mrs. Grant had a keen interest in VMI, which stemmed from her family’s long association with it. Seventeen of her relatives were alumni, including both grandfathers; her father, Rorer A. James, Jr. ’919; and her two sons, Walter L. Grant, Jr. ’69 and Rorer J. Grant ’71. Two of her relatives served on the Board of Visitors, and another was the Post Surgeon from 1926 to 1930. One of her cousins was Samuel M. Millner ‘911, a professor of French for 50 years.

Mrs. Grant shared her relatives’ deep devotion to VMI. However, it was only after her death in August 1990 that the depth of this devotion became wholly apparent. Through her estate, she established the E. Stuart James Grant Charitable Trust, which included VMI among its many beneficiaries. The Trust has donated close to $3 million to VMI, including $250,000 in support of Marshall Hall’s construction and $100,000 to renovate Preston Library’s reference room (now named in Mrs. Grant’s honor). The Trust’s support, however, has focused on the E. Stuart James Grant Scholarship and the VMI-Danville Community Internship Fund.

The Scholarship supports cadets from Danville and its surrounding counties, and currently aids four cadets. Initially, the VMI-Danville Community Internship Fund provided internships for Danville area cadets in various public service agencies. Since 2014, however, it supports internships at American National Bank and Trust Company, which serves eighteen communities in Virginia and North Carolina and administers the Trust. This summer, the two cadet interns were Joseph Brown ’18 and Bradley Lipscomb ’16.

“The E. Stuart James Grant Scholarship has been an invaluable resource that allows local youths to attend VMI and receive the prestigious education it offers,” said Jeffrey V. Haley, President and CEO of the bank. “I’m pleased that American National is a part of the VMI-Danville Community Internship experience, and I have enjoyed getting to know the participating cadets and providing them mentorship opportunities.”

“Mrs. Grant’s family has a strong record of serving VMI and the Danville community through personal service and generous philanthropy, and the E. Stuart James Grant Charitable Trust intertwines those legacies,” said Brian Scott Crockett, CEO of the VMI Foundation. “We value our relationships with people from American National Bank and Trust Company, like Jeff Haley and Dexter Gilliam ’76, who appreciate VMI’s value to the Commonwealth and the value of a VMI education to young people.”