The Rev. Charles Wesley Grady, who died on January 19, 2017 at the age of 91.
Charles was born in Lima, OH on December 9, 1925 to mother Wealthy Dedrick Grady and father Charles C. Grady. He began working in commercial radio broadcasting at the age of 16, a career which he would pursue continuously for two decades, except for his two years serving as a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army Special Services, from 1944 to 1946. Charles attended the University of Cincinnati beginning in 1946, seeking a degree in German, but left early in order to focus on his broadcasting career.
In 1947 he married his beloved wife Claudine. The two were high school sweethearts, and Charles said in 1989 that although Claudine was blind from birth she “never allowed herself to be handicapped” and was a highly significant influence on his ministry. The couple became actively engaged in helping found a Unitarian fellowship in Lima, OH in 1955, which Charles believed marked the time when he began to consciously consider becoming a minister. After years of active church membership, Charles fully committed himself “to the service of values of lasting worth,” as he put it. He applied for ministerial fellowship with the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1963 and received a Masters of Divinity from Meadville Lombard Theological School in 1966.
Rev. Grady was ordained on November 6, 1966 by White Bear Unitarian Universalist Church in Mahtomedi, MN, where he would minister until 1969. In that year Rev. Grady was called to serve at First Parish Unitarian Universalists of Arlington, MA, where he dutifully ministered for over twenty years. At the time of his retirement in 1990, the congregation honored Rev. Grady as their Minister Emeritus. Though formally retired, Rev. Grady then accepted a call at the UU Fellowship of Hendersonville, NC; he served the congregation part-time until 1996, when the congregation was able to find a full-time minister and Rev. Grady began full retirement.
Rev. Grady dedicated much time and energy to the denomination. He served on several UUA boards and committees, including the Ministerial Fellowship Committee, the Council on Church and Staff Finances, the Universalist Historical Society, and others on the district level. While ministering in Arlington, MA Rev. Grady was a board member and secretary of the James Luther Adams Foundation. For many years he worked as a Field Education Supervisor for Harvard Divinity School. Rev. Grady also co-chaired the “Carnes for UUA President” campaign of 1977, and was a member of the Greenville Study Group.
Committed to the study of history and honoring his connection to the denomination’s cultural and philosophical heritage, Rev. Grady was a biographer of noted Transcendentalist and Unitarian Minister Frederic Henry Hedge. He contributed numerous articles on Hedge to Kairos, The UU Christian, Studies in the American Renaissance, and The Proceedings of the Unitarian Universalist Historical Society. Rev. Grady also authored Arlington's First Parish: A History, 1733-1990, published 2000, which the parish gifts to new members upon joining.
In his spare time Charles loved to sail; while living in Massachusetts he cruised up and down the New England coast. He and Claudine were also enthusiastic concert and playgoers, and books and records were a fixture of their home. Charles loved especially to read history, biography, novels, poetry, and drama, as well as non-technical writers in science and philosophy. Finally, he and Claudine loved to travel, visiting many countries around the world.
Reflecting on his ministry in the time leading up to his retirement, Rev. Grady had these lovely words to say:
Our churches are clearings in the wilderness of this time: places of refuge and sanctuary for the bruised and tired, and also places of healing and renewal. They are ‘workshops for common endeavor,’ as Kenneth Patton has said, and schools for learning and enlightenment, transmitters and celebrators of a heritage, tools for breaking down barriers and building new bridges.
Rev. Grady is survived by children Stephanie Grady and Michael Grady and their spouses, sister Marjorie Walker, five grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by wife Claudine.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Minnesota Orchestra, Planned Parenthood, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
A memorial service will take place at the UU Fellowship of Hendersonville, NC at 3:00pm on February 25, 2017; a celebration of life for family and friends is being planned in Minnesota for April, 2017; and Rev. Grady’s cremains—along with Claudine’s—will be placed in the Memorial Garden at First Parish UU of Arlington, MA in summer 2017.
Notes of condolence can be sent to Stephanie Grady at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 8714 2nd Ave S., Bloomington, MN 55420.