Art and Suiko Grant were avid gardeners, transforming their 3½-acre property in the hills off Reibli Road into a “veritable Garden of Eden,” with every type of fruit tree imaginable, recalls their daughter, Trina Grant.
Her dad, who grew up in a family of 13 on a dairy ranch in Point Arena, was a prize-winning member of the Future Farmers of America. He grew a multitude of vegetables and cultivated a hobby vineyard.
Art, 95, and Suiko, 75, died together on the Sundown Trail property they had passionately tended for nearly 50 years.
Arthur Tasman Grant briefly attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on a scholarship but left to join the Navy during World War II. He trained as a fighter pilot on both the Hellcat and Corsair, although the war ended before he saw combat. He remained with the service, spending time post-war on Midway and Wake islands and on Guam. After he was discharged in 1953, he drove a soda delivery truck in San Francisco before landing a job as a pilot with Pan Am.
Grant met his future wife in Honolulu, where she was working for a Japanese company. He had been dating her roommate, but when he caught site of Suiko at a party, he decided she was the one.
Suiko Grant was born in China and raised in Sapporo, Japan. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo. Trina Grant said her mother was a homemaker and remembers her as a doting mom, whose “sole focus was to make sure her children were positioned in life the best they could be to succeed.”
“If I’d be going on a trip, she would make me all of my favorite Japanese food and I would have food for days,” said Trina Grant, a flight attendant who lives in Denver but frequently stayed with her parents on San Francisco layovers. “She’d have it perfectly packaged and waiting for me at 5 in the morning, so you knew she’d been up.”
Her father, she said, was “a hoot,” a storyteller who loved to regale with tales from his colorful life of travels.
“All I can say is, it was a gift. Very few people can tell a story like that. The amount of detail, the nuances, the structure and the pivotal moment,” she said. “Even though he had told a story many times, it never got old.”
Her parents’ greatest joy in life, she said, was their only grandchild, her daughter, Sloane, 8.
The mature fir trees Art Grant planted decades ago to line the steep one-lane road up to their home became a racetrack for flames the first night of the Tubbs fire. The other side of the road was heavily forested. It appeared from the scorched black twigs left in the fire’s wake that the elderly couple had no time or safe way to escape.
“It would have been an absolute inferno they would have been driving into,” their daughter surmised.
It appeared the couple tried to drive out but were stopped by either a fallen power line or flames. With no other option, they went back up to the house and took refuge with their Tibetan terrier Lulu, in the best place they could find — their underground wine cellar. But when the fire overtook the house, it sucked all the oxygen out of the space. Grant takes a glimmer of comfort in the fact that her parents were not burned.
The Press Democrat remembers the 40 lives lost in the North Bay fires. Click here for more of the stories.