Richard Grant, longtime Daniel Murphy Foundation president and renowned figure in Catholic philanthropy in LA and nationally, died Aug. 10, after a long illness. He was 82.
Known for his unassuming character and kindness, Grant served the Daniel Murphy Foundation in several key leadership capacities for 50 years until his retirement in 2020. Under his direction as president, the foundation increasingly turned its attention toward supporting Catholic education in Los Angeles, with a special focus on inner-city schools.
“Through his work in leading the Dan Murphy Foundation and other philanthropic organizations he devoted his life to ameliorate the suffering of the poor, sick, and vulnerable in the most humble of manners,” said David Fuhrman, who succeeded Grant as president of the foundation in 2020.
One well-known example was his successful drive to save Cathedral High School near downtown LA from closure in the 1980s.
“It took more than a foundation, it took more than money to make it work,” Grant recalled in an Angelus profile earlier this year. “It takes a team of committed individuals. It’s about passing the ball and allowing people to help.”
Following his retirement, Archbishop José H. Gomez told Angelus that “for decades now, Richard has been the driving force behind so much of what is good and hopeful and beautiful in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.”
On Aug. 2, just a week before his death, Archbishop Gomez joined local members of the Order of Malta in a prayer service at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels organized to pay tribute to Richard and his wife Maria. The service included veneration of the relics of St. Bernadette, recognizing Richard’s deep devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes, who appeared to the saint in 1858.
In a video message delivered at the service, the archbishop expressed his gratitude for the couple’s “kindness and love for all these years.”
“I am grateful every day, more than you can know, for your wisdom and guidance. And most of all, for your friendship,” he added.
Although the Grants were unable to attend the service, it was live streamed so they could participate from home. Maria said the relic’s visit and the prayer service were touching to Richard, who had made 15 pilgrimages to the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in France during his lifetime.
Rowena Itchon met Grant while accompanying her sister Ruby, who was suffering from illness at the time, on one of those pilgrimages to Lourdes in 2019. She said she was surprised to see her normally reserved sister “completely at ease” with Grant during the pilgrimage. A few days before his death, Grant sent Rowena a message to say he was praying for Ruby, who had since passed away.
“He was everyone’s friend, and was so generous with his time,” said Itchon, who was among those praying for Grant at the Aug. 2 prayer service.
The Daniel Murphy Foundation was founded in 1957 by Daniel and Bernardine Donohue. Grant’s father was the foundation’s first treasurer, and when Bernardine died in 1968, Grant came on as a board member. He eventually succeeded his father as treasurer before becoming executive director and, in 2008, president.
Fuhrman noted Grant was the last of the foundation’s employees and trustees with direct family ties to Daniel Murphy and Bernardine.
In his final interview with Angelus, Grant described his father as “my best teacher.”
“He looked at things, saw what there was to do and then would say, ‘Let’s do it.’ He was a wonderful example to pitch in and do things. That was always part of my life growing up.”
Furhman told Angelus that Grant will be remembered, among other things, for shaping the foundation’s mission and building “a sustainable enterprise devoted to a vibrant Catholic community in the Archdiocese of LA."
“People who observe Richard and who have experienced his powerful combination of grace and modesty often proclaim that he is a ‘modern day saint,’ ” he said.