Past president Roger Grant passes away

Dear Fellow Lexingtonians:

It is with profound sadness that I announce the passing of H. Roger Grant, historian, board member, and past president of the Lexington Group, on November 17, 2023. He is survived by his wife, Martha, and by his daughter, Julia. An Iowa native, Roger was born in Ottumwa on November 28, 1943, and spent his formative years in Albia. His appreciation for the region’s railroads and people is reflected in many of his works, most recently Sunset Cluster: A Shortline Railroad Saga. It was one of more than forty books that Roger authored during a stellar career, covering such diverse topics as electric interurbans, the development of railway technology, and the life of station agents. His biographies of John W. Barriger III and Jervis Langdon Jr. provide extraordinary insights into individuals who have shaped the railroad industry. Studies of the Wabash and the declining years of the Erie Lackawanna have become classics, and attest to the thoroughness of his research and his skill as a storyteller. His scholarship has resulted in widespread recognition, including the George W. and Constance M. Hilton Book Award and the Gerald M. Best Senior Achievement Award from the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society.

During his time at the University of Akron, between 1970 and 1996, and since then as the Kathryn and Calhoun Lemon Professor of History at Clemson University, Roger displayed skill and dedication as a teacher. He won widespread praise from his colleagues, who noted his warmth, his sense of humor, and his commitment to mentoring emerging scholars.

Roger was a dedicated supporter of the Lexington Group and served for many years on the board. He was my predecessor as president, during a period he jokingly referred to as “the Grant Administration.” I last saw him a few weeks ago, during our excursion on the East Broad Top. He was in his element, delighted at the opportunity to spend time with trains, and with his friends. I will cherish the memory of sitting with him at lunch that day, discussing a wide range of topics, and I wish that I could have another such opportunity.

Roger’s support for railroad history extended far beyond the Lexington Group and included membership on the boards of directors of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art and the John W. Barriger III National Railroad Library. He was also co-editor of the Railroads Past and Present series at Indiana University Press. His fellow editor, Tom Hoback, informed me of Roger’s passing, noting that “we’ve lost a giant.” No matter how many words I write, I can think of no better way to describe Roger’s extraordinary life and career, and how much we will miss him.

Al Churella
President, the Lexington Group, Inc.

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