Jan. 18, 1948 – Aug. 2, 2022
“And the child born on the Sabbath Day is bonny and blithe and good and gay.”
Sharlene Faye Grant (nee) Smith was born on a bright Sunday morning on Jan. 18, 1948 in the city she would love all her life, San Francisco. After completing grade school in the Bay area, Shary sailed on a troop ship to the island of Guam with her parents, U.S. Navy civil service employees. During her time on Guam, she became very involved with Job’s Daughters, the highlight of which was her installation as Honored Queen. She often recalled her adventures as a teenager, including trips into the jungle to swim beneath a thundering waterfall and riding out typhoon Karen, which struck the island with wind gusts in excess of 200 miles per hour. Mangoes and beautiful tropical flowers growing wild were prominent in her memories of those carefree years. During her time on Guam several Japanese soldiers wandered out of those very same jungles, still believing the war had not yet ended. While in the Pacific she also took advantage of the opportunity to visit Japan.
Returning to California, she attended Hilltop High School in San Diego, graduating with honors. She then earned a Bachelor of Arts and a master’s degree in social work at San Diego State University. It was during this period that she met and fell in love with her husband-to-be Patrick Grant, an active-duty naval officer at the time. They married in 1971 and relocated to Los Angeles where Shary took a position with the LA County Dept. of Children’s Services as an adoptions worker. During her 32-year career with the County she was responsible for placing over a thousand children with adoptive families.
Moving from West Los Angeles to Glendale in 1974, Shary and Pat purchased a small house in Whiting Woods. In 1986 they relocated to their current residence in Oakmont Woods. Retiring in 2006, Shary became very active in PEO. During her 20 years of service, she assumed various offices including several terms as president of her local chapter CJ-JI. PEO is internationally recognized for its dedication to providing higher education opportunities for young woman through scholarships and the sponsorship of Cottey College for Woman in Nevada, Missouri. She was also a member of the Glendale Emblem Club. In addition, she served on the board of directors of the Days of the Verdugo Historical Association (DOVHA), which oversees the preservation of the Casa Verdugo historical site, a significant piece of Glendale’s 19th century history.
As a part-time Navy wife, Shary enthusiastically supported her husband’s naval reserve career enjoying ceremonies, traditions and the increasingly more “unbelievable” sea stories related by her husband and Navy friends.
In 2012 a second home at Crystal Lake in northwest Michigan was purchased. This offered the opportunity to spend time at the lake with visiting nephews, nieces and their children, all of whom reside on the East coast. Spending five to six months each year in Michigan, Shary became active in several local organizations including a food bank, a hospital committee and as a member of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church. In addition, she participated in the local chapter of PEO and the Garden Club.
She loved to travel, crisscrossing the U.S. many times by car with her husband, ocean cruising to Hawaii, Alaska, Mexico and the Caribbean and traveling about Europe with friends. Her favorite cities after San Francisco were New York, Boston and San Diego. Her interests and loves included yellow roses, Disney animation, Broadway musicals (especially “A Chorus Line,” which she saw 38 times), anything by Steven Sondheim, mystery novels with female protagonists, historical biographies of American first ladies, baseball, Corvettes, crossword puzzles, her two beautiful Golden Retrievers, Cuba Libres and champagne. She was also a skilled Skeeball, rummy, pinochle and acey-deucy (backgammon) player.
Always displaying a bright smile, she fought valiantly to avoid showing signs of the struggle she was waging in her five-year battle with breast cancer. She was loving, tolerant and courageous to the end. In May of this year Pat and Shary returned to the same Carmel resort where they had honeymooned many years ago. Situated high above the coastal cliffs and crashing waves of the Pacific, they celebrated their 50th anniversary.
Shary’s mother Maxine Willets Murphy and father Robert Smith predeceased her. She is survived by her loving husband Patrick, his brother Thomas and numerous nephews and nieces and their children.
Shary left us on Aug. 2 of this year. Her final resting place will be at the National Cemetery in Westwood beside her husband when he passes. Given her lifelong commitment to bettering the lives of children, it is fitting that she now rests among those who have provided such dedicated and selfless service in defense of their nation.
Those who knew her will always have memories of a caring, gentle person who lived life with enthusiasm, curiosity and respect for all. The sweetness and sense of wonder in the sparkling brown eyes of a 4-year old on Santa’s knee stayed with her all her life.
A ceremony to celebrate Shary’s life will be held at the Oakmont Country Club on Sunday, Oct. 9 at noon. In lieu of flowers, etc., donations to the Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation or the Children’s Fund may be made in Shary’s name.
One of her favorite poems included these lines:
“Hope” is the thing with feathers-
That perches in the soul-
And sings the tune without the words-
And never stops-at-all- Emily Dickinson c. 1861