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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

James Lee community mourns football coach Frank Grant

The community lost a “quiet titan” when Frank Grant III, the football coach and commissioner of the James Lee Community Center Sports Association in Falls Church, died suddenly on March 18, reports Will Nelson, whose son used to play on the team. Grant, 51, suffered from a heart attack.  

A candlelight vigil is planned for Saturday, March 28, at 5 p.m., at the James Lee Community Center, and other events are planned to commemorate Grant will be held throughout the year, says his colleague, Donald Lee. The funeral will be held on Monday, March 30, at 11 a.m. at Galloway United Methodist Church, 306 Annandale Road, Falls Church, preceded by a viewing at 10 a.m.

Grant went above and beyond what’s normally expected of a football coach, Nelson says. “He put stripes on the field himself, raised money for uniforms, and provided things the community couldn’t afford. The kids meant so much to him.”  

“Frank was a great influence on the kids and parents,” says Lee, who served as assistant football commissioner at the center and is now the commissioner. “You couldn’t really forgot him,” he says. “His personality was straight up and down. He didn’t pretend. He spoke his mind. He was very intelligent and had a lot of charisma.”

“He coached football like a soldier in the war,” Lee says. “He was doing it because it was the right thing to do. He was the first one on the field and the last to leave. If kids didn’t have money for cleats, he did whatever he could to make sure they had what they needed. He had a bucket full of shoes for kids who needed then.”

Lee was 12 years old when he met Grant at the James Lee Community Center, playing basketball. “When I  returned to the center with my own kids, he was still there,” Lee says.

Grant grew up in Falls Church and played on the Falls Church High School football team in the 1980s, Lee says. Grant has been at the James Lee Center since 1991 and was one of the founders of the center’s football program, which is part of the Fairfax County Youth Football League.

Grant worked as an editor and speechwriter for the federal government and leaves behind a daughter, Brandi Grant; son, Darnell Morris; mother, Jean Grant; brother, Warren Grant; and niece, Henryetta “CoCo” Lang.  his former wife, Roxanne Morse, and

According to Lee, Grant was the great, great, great grandson of James Lee, one of the first African American landowners in Falls Church and the founder of a thriving African American community after the Civil War. One of his heirs established a school for blacks there, which later became the James Lee Elementary School and was subsequently repurposed as the James Lee Community Center.  

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