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Tone N. Grant

Died: January 18, 2015

The final chapter in Tone Grant’s life was an American tragedy; all that came before it was an American triumph. Tone was born in Washington, DC to Milton North Grant and Winifred Sidway Grant. Though of modest means, Tone’s parents sought the best opportunities they could afford, sending Tone to the Landon School for Boys in Bethesda and then with partial scholarship to Phillips Andover Academy, where he was an outstanding athlete in both baseball and football, as a pitcher and quarterback. Tone was heavily involved in youth athletics from his earliest days, and success at baseball led to contract offers from the NY Giants, Boston Red Sox, NY Yankees and Detroit Tigers by the time of his graduation from Andover. Despite full scholarship offers from Stanford and other schools, Tone chose Yale, receiving only a partial scholarship, entering in the fall of 1962, rooming in Vanderbilt.

A political science major and member of Ezra Stiles College, Tone roomed with Sven Huseby, Larry Jones and his closest friend in college, Mike Armstrong. He earned varsity Ys in football 1963-65, becoming starting quarterback his junior year. He earned a major Y in baseball in 1964 and lacrosse in 1965 (though new to the sport), making him a rare three-sport letter man. Tone was a member of DKE and Berzelius.

Following Yale, Tone entered Vanderbilt Law School, and on graduation in 1969 he went to Vietnam, where he served with distinction in the Marine Corps’ Judge Advocate Division (where he was one of very few non-combatants, and perhaps the only JAD member, to receive the Combat Service Ribbon). Afterward, at camp Pendleton, his successful defense of a politically incorrect Marine earned him the wrath of his superiors but the admiration of his fellow attorneys. Tone married Kathi Schmid in 1973, welcoming her children as his own, and, after completing Marine Corps service, joined the San Francisco law firm Cooley Godward before becoming general counsel for Commerce Union Bank of Nashville. In 1980 Tone became general counsel for REFCO, a commodities and futures brokerage, where he remained for 19 years before leaving after a dispute with owners regarding future directions for the company. Several years after he left, REFCO went public and Tone became entangled in a federal investigation leading to charges of securities fraud and, ultimately, a conviction. Tone maintained his innocence and refused a plea-bargain which he felt was a dishonest and thinly disguised bribe. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison where, in the seventh year of his sentence, he sustained a fatal stroke, a tragic end to a remarkable life. Tone’s service to others, much of it anonymous, was a major theme of his life. He served on the board of the Wellesley Centers for Women and was a faithful supporter of athletic programs for underprivileged children, often funding them at his own expense. Tone is survived by his sister Wendie, former wife Kathi and his stepchildren Susan, Mark, and Robert and his grandchildren.

Robert Riordan remembers:

Unique is an overused word but I have heard it several times as friends have tried to describe Tone Grant and what he has meant to us. Tone always marched to his own drummer, and his view of the world was in fact unique and special to him.

Tone and I first met in spring 1963 as freshman baseball teammates, but he had impressed me the previous year while I was on a recruiting trip. Tone pitched a one hitter for his Andover Academy team and struck out sixteen Yale freshmen. I knew then that I was watching a very gifted athlete but did not yet know that Tone was simply one of the best, yet most complex people whom I would ever know.

Several years later I was having lunch in Pittsburgh with Richard Brodhead, then the dean of Yale College and now the president of Duke University. Dick told me that, as a younger Andover student, Tone was his life hero because he epitomized all that an Andover student aspired to be: excellent student, outstanding athlete but humble, modest and kind to all regardless of status or station. Tone later contacted Dick and they too became good friends.

That was the Tone Grant whom most of us have been privileged to know. He was bright, positive, optimistic, and a loyal friend. He loved all his family deeply, as I came to appreciate when his sister Wendie and I married in 1969 with Tone as the best man. He revered his parents North and Winnie, reflecting the profound love which they had bestowed on him and Wendie. Tone was absolutely devoted to his children Susan, Mark and Bob and to his grandchildren, doting on their activities and accomplishments.

Tone was a man of an abiding Christian faith, which sustained him and which I witnessed when he worshiped with his family. He was also intensely proud of his family’s record of military service for our country and of his own duty as a Marine Corps officer in Vietnam.

But it was Tone’s good spirits and sense of humor that color so many memories of him. He knew how to laugh and have a good time, and we friends all enjoyed his company. As sophisticated as he was in in so many aspects of his later life, he could make the most naive comments as a college student and then, after a reality check, we would all just laugh with him at Tone being Tone.

His positive nature and boundless optimism led him to treasure mentoring young people, and he took great satisfaction in enabling many (mostly minority) students to earn college scholarships through their athletic endeavors. As a scholarship student himself, Tone embraced the principle of giving back with both his time and resources.

We all wish that Tone had been perfect; but, like the rest of us, he was not. He was intense and hard-working which made him successful but not always accessible. He was articulate and self-confident, but at times his pronouncements bordered on arrogance and hubris. Tone always believed the best about others, and that was ultimately a defining flaw. Not all of his associates deserved his loyalty and support. It was hard during prison visits to listen to his rants about the judicial system which imprisoned him as he professed his innocence to the end of his life.

But we celebrate Tone Grant and his life, imperfect as it was. In balance, he was a good man and good soul. We remember and cherish his many wonderful qualities and the positive legacy he has left for his family and friends from which we can now draw strength. We all have great memories and stories to savor and share.

Tone, may God bless you and may you at last rest in peace.

Paul Kiernan remembers:

I remember and salute Tone Grant as the best of the best. I knew him from third grade on, though never well, as I was a year behind him in secondary school, catching up only when he transitioned to Andover, then Yale. Nevertheless, I followed his actions closely, as throughout secondary school, then college, then the military, then professionally, he set the standard regularly, always the model of integrity, mannerly conduct, and high intellect. Even in his difficult last years, he taught contemporary events to those less fortunate than himself.

Truly, a finer fellow never lived. I looked up to him then; I still do.

Cecil Chang remembers:

Tone; From our common floor in Vanderbilt Hall, to sharing a hallway in Stiles, and then your brief stint in SF, I will always remember you as a true and loyal friend.

James Munson remembers:

Thanksgiving weekend 1989 my wife and I were in London for a long weekend with a group of friends we had met at the C Lazy U ranch in Granby Colorado. On Sunday morning she and I went out for a walk to get a coffee; and as we were walking along, Tone Grant suddenly appeared walking toward us on the other side of the street. What a surprise! We went to a cafe and traded travel stories. Tone was in Europe on business, and he finally and modestly admitted that he had spent half of the previous day in meetings with the King of Spain. The King of Spain no less. Tone was both nonchalant and exhilarated by the experience but not the least bit boastful or prideful. I walked back to the hotel thinking what a world this is.

Tone had a real sense of humor as well. When we were playing football as sophomores, we were both in the Princeton game late because we were losing badly. He was quarterback, and I was the left guard. He called a roll out pass play where he faked a run right and rolled out left to pass with the left guard pulling left to protect him. I missed the call, pulled the wrong way and Tone got clobbered by Princeton’s defensive end. John Pont was the coach, and in the film session with the whole team on Sunday he ran that play over and over and over to show how lazy and stupid we were. Truly humiliating. Tone and I used to laugh about that play over the years but always with a twinge of embarrassment from me. Ten years ago my then 16 year old daughter Elizabeth was in the Newark airport returning from a rowing recruiting trip to Princeton. Somehow she and Tone ran into each other. Tone came up with this scheme for my daughter to tell me when I picked her up at O’Hare that she had run into an old Princeton football player at Newark who was the guy that I did not block and who clobbered Tone. Sure enough, on the ride home Elizabeth casually told me about the Princeton guy she met who claimed to have crushed Tone because I missed my block. Well, I bought the whole story and started to sweat and wonder if this rotting albatross around my neck would ever go away. My daughter pretty quickly put me out of my misery saying that she had met Tone who scripted the whole hilarious thing.

Douglas Moore remembers:

I met Tone Grant at freshman football, but it was working together on food lines at Commons and Morse College that led to friendship. The work was stooge work and so we called each other Stooge. Tone’s football went in the opposite direction from mine, and our work on the food lines ended so we saw little of each other after sophomore year. We entered Vanderbilt Law School together in 1966. Tone and I lived together for a time and coached a local high school football team for two years. Tone had the skill players, and I got the rest. Tone was one of my groomsmen when I married in 1968. After law school I did not see Tone for almost five years. I was riding the El from Chicago’s loop to my home when Tone and I literally bumped into each other. We met a few times after that. We promised more but didn’t follow through. I invested a small sum in one of Tone’s portfolios, but I was a nervous investor and pulled out. That was the last time I saw or spoke with Tone.

Over the years I heard about Tone’s troubles. I wondered why. Then I learned that he died last year. I read several obituaries. I spoke with others who knew Tone. And I wondered why. Tone had so much talent, skill, intelligence, and guts, and he knew how to succeed. Stooge and I had some great times together. But those times seem far off now as I continue to wonder why.

James Groninger remembers:

I remember Tone’s call to me when he was in the midst of his trial. He was brief, but he stated that he really was unaware of the financial manipulations of his former company.

We talked about how events can get out of control and people can be made examples of for the media and courts.

And I believed him then and believe him now. And I’ll miss him.

Denis Tippo remembers:

Tone switched from baseball to lacrosse his junior year. As a good athlete and football quarterback, he made an easy transition to varsity lacrosse and became a solid midfielder on our “top ten” lacrosse team during our senior year. Beyond his pleasant smile and friendly nature, Tone was a tough competitor on the athletic field.

Our lives crossed later when he and I worked together at Andover (Tone as an alumni volunteer and leader; and I as the school’s alumni-parent relations director). Tone co-chaired an important committee to study and enhance the athletic program at his high school alma mater. The report was hard hitting but fair and led to the improvement of athletics and athletic facilities at Phillips Academy, Andover.