Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning producer and Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival founding board member William R. Grant (pictured) has died at the age of 72.
Grant passed away on Sunday (May 15) in Atlanta, Georgia of complications from pneumonia. He had spent 28 years working in television after a nearly 20-year career as a newspaper reporter and editor in Kentucky, Michigan and California.
Over the course of his television career, Grant served as executive editor for PBS science strand ‘NOVA’ and managing editor of public affairs program ‘Frontline’; executive director of science, natural history and features for New York City’s WNET; and produced a number of critically acclaimed series for PBS, including The American President and Stephen Hawking’s Universe.
He was the recipient of 13 Emmys and eight Peabody Awards.
In addition, Grant served as one of the founding board members behind the launch of the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival in 1991. He was named chairman of the board in 2002 and served in that role for more than 10 years, and remained on the executive committee as chairman emeritus following his retirement.
“As one of the Jackson Hole founding board members, Bill’s leadership and insight made a deep and enduring impact on the festival for more than two decades,” read a statement from the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival. “His wisdom, clarity and wry humor will be deeply missed.”
“Under Bill’s leadership, the festival grew to become the most prestigious event of its genre,” added Lisa Samford, executive director of the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival. “His impact was indelible and his leadership was very much a reflection of what he was as a human – insightful, wry, intelligent and always a true Southern gentleman.”
Grant began his career as the editor of the University of Kentucky’s student newspaper – the Kentucky Kernel – before working for Louisville’s The Courier-Journal, the Lexington Herald-Leader, the Detroit Free Press and the San Francisco Chronicle. He would make his way to the television industry with a move to WGBH, the Boston affiliate of public television, where he served for two years as managing editor of ‘Frontline’ and 10 years as executive editor of ‘NOVA’ before joining WNET in 1997. There, he executive produced such series and specials as Savage Skies, America on Wheels and Knife to the Heart.
He is survived by his wife, Ellen G. Grant of Alpharetta, Georgia.; two sons, Mitchell Grant of Boston and Rees Grant of Columbus, Mississippi; daughter Elizabeth Mitchell Grant of Athens, Georgia and two grandchildren, Owen Grant Shalin and Theodore Henry Shalin, both of Marietta, Georgia; brother Walter M. Grant of Atlanta, Georgia; two sisters, Anne Grant Holloway and Mary Grant Anderson, both of Lilburn, Georgia.
Funeral arrangements are pending. His family requests in lieu of flowers that donations be made to the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival.