D.L. Tilford Grant Sr. was born on July 31, 1934 to Rufus Grant Jr. and Willie Caldwell Grant, in Plum, Texas, where from an early age he attended Mt. Zion Baptist Church. Growing up, he was more comfortable using his middle name Tilford rather than his first, D.L., a family moniker. His was a hardscrabble, but resilient boyhood accented by work. He never complained. His rural upbringing made him industrious, independent, and hungry for more. No sooner had he graduated from Randolph High School, in La Grange, Texas, in 1953, than he picked up and headed for San Antonio and a new life.
Later as a young father married to the late Julene Lee Grant, whom he had wed in 1955, he still looked to improve himself. He attended evening classes at St. Philip’s College, trying his hand at upholstery. He was good at it, but the path that brought him the most reward was his 39-year career at the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in downtown San Antonio. He joined the Y as a massage therapist in 1957. However, by the time he retired in 1996, he had been promoted as its athletic director.
The life of any party, Tilford Grant strode through the door and lit up the room. He answered to the playful nickname “Killer”. He was an avid pool player and developed a knack for serving up good food. Tilford lived for Sunday dinners and devoured books by Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey. He liked to unwind listening to B.B. King and Charlie Pride.
A longtime member of the Randolph High School Alumni Association, he served at least two stints as president.
He always acknowledged God’s will and considered himself blessed, even when things did not go his way. His first wife, Julene, preceded him in death in 1972 after a lengthy illness. But he kept his small family intact. But he wasn’t destined to be alone. In 1977, he married Ruby J. Nious, known by family and friends as Peggy. This union would last until his death on Sunday, March 18 at Mission Trail Baptist Hospital.
He was preceded in death by a granddaughter, Mercedez Rae Griffin; his parents Rufus Jr. and Willie Grant; and sister Francine Johnson.
Survivors are his wife, Peggy; three sons: Wayman Griffin (Michelle), D.L. Tilford Grant Jr. and Darren L. Grant Sr.; a daughter, Felicia D. Grant, and stepson, Reginald E. Brown; four grandchildren, six step-grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren; and a sister Mildred Grant Mathews, all of San Antonio.
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