Generosity benefits three charities

Ron Grant spent the last years of his humble life as a volunteer with the Marysville Community Food Bank. After his death, three charities received donations from Grant’s estate. His life was modest, but his gifts were nothing short of extravagant.

The Marysville Community Food Bank, the Everett Gospel Mission Women and Children’s Shelter and Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle each received $94,579.04 for a total of $283,737.12.

Of the three charities, the food bank was closest to the Marysville man’s heart.

Single and childless, Grant, 71, was a retired school janitor who had worked for the Everett School District. As a young man, he delivered telegrams on his bicycle. For nearly a decade until his death on Oct. 21, 2007, he volunteered most every day, using his own truck to deliver goods from stores to the food bank.

“The food bank was kind of his family. He was always there,” said Jerry Nysether, Grant’s friend and a volunteer warehouse manager with the Marysville Community Food Bank. In 2003, Grant was the food bank’s volunteer of the year.

When food bank organizers learned Grant had left a gift, they had no idea what to expect. “We didn’t know — maybe $50? This was a huge surprise,” said Dana Mulligan, whose husband, Mike Mulligan, is the food bank’s board president.

The whopping contribution couldn’t have come at a better time. Now housed in a 3,400-square-foot building near the Marysville YMCA, the food bank will soon move. Its new 5,600-square-foot home is under construction next to St. Mary’s Catholic Church on 88th Street NE in Marysville. The building will cost about $800,000, Dana Mulligan said.

When the food bank moves, probably in January, it will have come full circle. Now part of the Snohomish County Food Bank Coalition, it was started at the church more than 30 years ago. Jo Ann Mulligan, Dana’s mother-in-law, was its founder. She remembers handing out groceries from the back door of St. Mary’s rectory.

Jo Ann Mulligan said Grant often donated his garage for storage. “That was a godsend,” she said. “When we had our big food drives, from postal carriers and at holiday time, we just didn’t have any extra space.”

As amazed as folks at the food bank were by Grant’s generous gift, Everett Gospel Mission CEO Sylvia Anderson was positively stunned.

“I screamed in that poor attorney’s ear,” said Anderson. She added that Grant’s $94,579.04 gift to the Everett Gospel Mission’s Women and Children’s Shelter will likely be used as a down payment on a building. “We want to acquire another building and open up 25 more beds,” she said. The agency’s board recently decided to make an offer on a house in Everett’s Lowell neighborhood near the existing women’s shelter, which can house 75 people.

Anderson said Grant was unknown at the shelter. “In our whole database, we found that he had given a total of $50,” she said. Grant’s gift may mean that the shelter will soon have room for 100 women and children.

“He must have seen a lot of families in that food bank,” Anderson said. Also considering his $94,579.04 gift to Children’s Hospital in Seattle, she added, “he wanted to make sure women and children were taken care of.”

“Creating a space for 25 more women and children to be housed and fed, his gift is exponential and powerful,” Anderson said. “You never know what’s in the heart of people.”

Lake Stevens attorney Bruce Galloway handled Grant’s estate. “In his will, he left his entire estate to charity. He had no immediate family,” Galloway said.

Grant had some speech problems and disabilities, the attorney said. He lived with his mother until she died. The donated money came primarily from the sale of Grant’s Marysville home. “He was just a really giving guy,” Galloway said.

“He gave everything he had to charity,” said Ed Tolman, of Lake Stevens. Grant was the cousin of Tolman’s wife.

Tolman said Grant’s mother, Julia Long, taught him to hang on to his money. During his life, Grant suffered from depression, Tolman said, but he found friends and purpose at the food bank. “He loved working there,” he said.

Beyond volunteering, Grant liked playing dominoes. “He played dominoes with us every Friday night,” Tolman said. “He was a great guy, very generous.”

Columnist Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460 or

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