Mike Grant was sitting with his father, Bud, at noontime Tuesday. Mike is the fourth of Bud’s six children and the second of four boys. Early Tuesday, Bruce, 57, the third son, had died 14 months after being diagnosed with brain cancer.
Pat Grant, Bud’s wife and Mike’s mother, had died in 2009 and her remains were interred in a city-owned cemetery near Gordon, Wis., and also near the lake where the Grants long have had a summer place. Bruce’s urn also could be buried there.
“My dad has owned eight plots there since the 1950s,” Mike said. “He has the original diagram of the plots. He said: ‘You know how I got those, don’t you? As payment for pitching for the town baseball team in the summer.’
“That was another story that I had never heard before.”
Bud has gone through his long life as a savant in several areas, including football, the outdoors and garage sales, but this seemed a level of uncanniness even beyond the reaches of Harry Peter Grant Jr., originally of Superior, Wis.
“ ‘Dad … eight plots?’ ” Mike Grant said. “ ‘You didn’t have any kids yet. How did you know you were going to have six kids, to go with you and Mom, for burial plots?’ ”
Mike, the longtime football coach at Eden Prairie, laughed slightly and said: “Bud looked at me and said: ‘That wasn’t the reason. Eight plots were the most I could bargain for with them.’ ”
Too bad Bruce wasn’t around to hear that one. He was the quipster in the family, an admirer of hearing and telling stories, and he would have enjoyed another tale of his father getting all that was possible out of a negotiation.
“Bruce and Danny, the two youngest, were the best of friends … really close,” Mike said. “In the spring of 2017, Bruce was having problems; depression, behavior that wasn’t him. And Danny said, ‘We have to take in Bruce now to see a doctor.’
“We went to Riverside and we were there a few hours in the emergency room as Bruce was being tested. Then, this wonderful doctor, a young woman, asked us to come in a room and I immediately thought, ‘This isn’t good.’ ”
It wasn’t. Bruce had several brain tumors, and there was surgery to remove the most troubling one, in his frontal lobe, within a day.
“May 30, 2017 … that’s when Bruce was diagnosed,” Mike said. “We’ve had great lives, the Grants, but we’ve also had loss, like all other families. Our mom, Pat, and we also lost Ben Tangert, Laurie’s husband, to a heart attack.
“All loss is tough. This one’s extra tough on Bud, losing a child. And Bruce was such a good guy, such a great character …
“You know what he was when it came to sports? He was a connoisseur. He was a very good basketball player, an outstanding quarterback at [Minnesota] Duluth, but after that … he played men’s league basketball, pickup basketball in health clubs around town, touch football, softball.
“He loved it. He loved the competition and going out afterward for a couple of beers and telling stories.”
Some of Bruce Grant’s best stories involved his four seasons (1980-83) at Minnesota Duluth, the last three as Jim Malosky’s starting quarterback. Malosky was both the legendary coach of the Bulldogs and Bud’s teammate and roommate in the late ’40s for the Gophers.
“Billy Bye would have a weekend gathering at his place on Bay Lake every summer for those old Gophers and Bud wouldn’t miss it,” Mike Grant said. “Dad showed me a photo a while back with him, Billy, Malosky, Verne Gagne, Pinky [McNamara], another Gopher or two and said, ‘I’m the only one left.’ ”
I was talking with Mike Picott, Bruce’s center during those excellent seasons at Minnesota Duluth, and he was laughing again at Bruce’s frequent retelling of favorite Malosky stories:
Malosky summoning Bruce to the sideline to ask, “Bruce, how can you be so ...” and ending his question with a creative adjective. Or Bruce calling out an audible and Malosky shouting from the sideline: “It’s NEVER going to work.”
Mike Grant had laughed a hundred times at those same stories and added that there was nothing Malosky could say to his brother — no matter how uncomplimentary — that could draw more than a smile from the quarterback.
“Bruce had worked training camp and been around the Vikings for several years before he ever got to Duluth,” Mike said. “Which means, he had been around Jerry Burns. And when you had been around Burnsie, on the practice field, talking in meetings, just in general, you had heard profanity in all of its most creative forms.
“There’s nothing Jim Malosky could have said to shock Bruce, guaranteed.”
Patrick Reusse can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on AM-1500. firstname.lastname@example.org