Gordon Grant, a Los Angeles Times writer whose more than two decades covering South County and its maritime affairs earned him a harbor park site named in his honor, died Wednesday at South Coast Medical Center. He was 80.
According to Grant's family, he died peacefully at 3 p.m. after a lengthy hospital stay for a failing heart.
Grant began his journalism career at the Chicago Times in 1935. He moved to the Tampa (Fla.) Tribune, which sent him to Europe as a war correspondent during World War II. During the last years of that war, Grant lost sight in one eye after a shell burst near him.
He joined The Times in 1955 and was among the staff assigned to open The Times Orange County newsroom in Costa Mesa in 1968. He was assigned to South County coverage, writing articles on a variety of topics but gaining a reputation for articles dealing with wildlife, maritime topics and environmental issues.
He retired in 1989 and soon afterward was honored by the Orange County Board of Supervisors, which named a bayside picnic area in his honor at Dana Point Harbor, an area he had covered since its opening.
"This award for Gordon is long overdue," said Eric Jessen, a county harbors, beaches and parks official during a ceremony Oct. 22, 1990, to dedicate the picnic ground.
A plaque unveiled at the ceremony praised Grant's "warm, sensitive articles about Orange County's characters and wildlife, its wilderness and parks, its harbors and beaches," saying they "enriched this county, inspiring respect for natural beauty in everyday life."
Grant, in accepting the honor, said, "By and large, people have the idea that newspaper reporters are ink-stained wretches who work at the bottom of the wage scale. But when something like this happens, who cares about a paycheck."
Grant worked long past the typical age of retirement and did not quit until his eyesight failed in 1989 at age 75.
"Gordon Grant was truly a special person," said George Cotliar, managing editor of The Times who in the early 1970s was editor of the Orange County edition where Grant was assigned.
"Gordon was one of the best feature writers I have ever known," Cotliar said. "And the closer he came to the ocean, the more beautiful his prose became."
Orange County Supervisor Thomas F. Riley, whose district included the harbors and wild lands about which Grant so often wrote, said he was saddened by the death.
"I know him to have been a respected and well-loved journalist whose love for the coast and his neighbors endeared him over many years," Riley said. "I'm pleased that we were able to honor him during his lifetime so that he would know of the high esteem he was held by his friends and neighbors and professional acquaintances."
Grant is survived by his wife of 30 years, Gloria Grant; his daughters Patty Grant of Marina del Rey and Linda Grant Vars of Mound, Minn.; stepdaughters Amanda Bereny and Lisa Bereny, both of Oakland, and by numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
His wife said that during a private ceremony, Grant's ashes will be scattered at sea off the Orange County coast, as was his wish. No funeral services are planned.