It’s a daunting, if not an impossible task, to pay homage to an ephemeral human being that earned the adoration of so many people. Over eight hundred patiently snaked a mournful line through the funeral home, two dozen traveling from around the country, and hundreds driving several hours to bid this otherworldly young man farewell and to share stories of the impact he had upon their lives. He is eternal 21-years old and in his death, he continues to sprinkle his positive influence upon others. That beautiful soul is, Grant Richman.
After exemplifying excellence in multiple categories of life, Grant departed this earthly world on April 20, 2018. Beginning in elementary school and throughout his years at UW-Madison, he, like many kids, strove for distinction in academics and sports alike. However, it was his drive for faultlessness in character that separated him from others. He valued kindness, consideration, and, most importantly, sensitivity to the needs of others. From the young children he nannied to the elderly veterans he cared for at William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital, Grant most often had the right “touch.” He could look past a person’s behavior and quickly interpret the reason for the behavior and on the spot know just the right thing to say and the most advantageous approach to take. His patience combined with caring words and actions showed great insight and maturity beyond his years.
Family, friends, parents, fellow students, teachers, coaches, and coworkers alike were amazed at his gift. He was requested to be the spokesperson at events, elected team captain of sports, chosen as Prom King, became a revered friend, and was appointed to many leadership roles. The last role Grant held was a great source of pride for him, co-president of the pre-medical club at UW-Madison.
Grant didn’t stand in the limelight for the ego but instead to be ever responsible and do the right thing. He enjoyed a moment at a microphone not for want of attention but to embrace the challenge of delivering the message with the most impactful words and tone. Proof that he didn’t seek accolades for his deeds was shared during one of many eulogies. In exchange for his self-taught barbering skills, peers donated money to Grant’s change jar. He secretly used the donations to purchase granola bars for the homeless. Weekly he walked the streets of Madison handing out his purchases and offering haircuts. Of his dozens of close nit friends, only one knew of his secret volunteerism.
Upon receiving his driver’s license at 16-years old, Grant immediately registered for organ donation. Ultimately, he improved the quality of many lives with his selfless gift and inspired others also to become registered donors.
His bigheartedness in life continues in additional ways post-death. Grant’s dear Chilton High School friends established a foundation in his name. Scholarships are awarded to graduating seniors who have exemplified a commitment to community volunteerism. A second memorial spearheaded by a physician at Calumet Medical Center was also established. Small but meaningful Grant-like gifts such as food, clothing, and gas cards are given to needy patients and their families.
Grant – our collective tears of sorrow could fill Plummer Lake, your beloved place where your ashes rest today. You still inspire us to be the best versions of ourselves as we continue to love and honor you each day through volunteerism and performing random acts of kindness. Perhaps readers of this tribute will consider doing the same to honor their loved one and thusly magnify your legacy as being God’s steward of selfless generosity.
You are dearly missed.