A beloved swimming coach at Alden High School died over the weekend from injuries suffered last month in an accident while competing in a triathlon.
Gary E. Grant, 46, swim coach at Alden for almost 20 years, died in Erie County Medical Center on Sunday, after suffering spinal and head injuries during the bicycle leg of the TriDunkirk triathlon Aug. 26.
Grant, a veteran of triathlons, was trying to unclip his bicycle shoe while rounding a corner when he went headlong into a metal pole, family members said.
The Depew resident was taken by Mercy Flight to ECMC, where he succumbed to his injuries three weeks later.
"I have never met a person that didn't like my husband," said Elaine Grant, his wife of 20 years. "A lot of people describe him as having an infectious smile and laugh. I describe him as having the biggest heart and greatest capacity to love of anyone I know."
Born Oct. 8, 1965, Grant grew up in Alden and graduated from Alden High School in 1983.
He earned an associate's degree in animal husbandry from Morrisville State College before running the family dairy farm in Corfu for 10 years.
During that time, he started coaching swimming at his alma mater - first the boys team, then the boys and girls teams.
Grant got the greatest joy out of helping his swimmers improve, his wife said.
"His approach to coaching was to help each student reach their personal best," she said. "Whenever his swimmers made a best time, that was a huge celebration - whether they won or not."
"He was a wonderful coach and an incredible person," said Adam Stoltman, athletic director for the Alden Central School District. "He's going to be missed by everyone in our school community."
In the mid-1990s, Grant moved to Depew, where he was a stay-at-home dad, raising three boys while continuing to coach Alden's varsity squads. During that time, Grant also went to Buffalo State College, where he earned his bachelor's degree in technology education.
Once his youngest child started school, Grant began working as a substitute teacher in area districts, including Depew and Alden.
He also continued with his education at Buffalo State, where he was a few courses shy of earning a master's degree.
Grant had been a long-term substitute in the Letchworth Central School District until he was hired as a permanent full-time teacher there this year.
He was scheduled to start work in the week of his bicycle accident.
Grant had been competing in triathlons since high school and was active the sporting lives of his boys - Dylan, 16; Jakob, 14; and Samuel, 10.
Still very much a farmer at heart, Grant had an extensive garden at his Depew home, where he grew a lot of the family's food.
He was a conservationist and was keen on using alternative forms of energy. He also liked to hunt and take his boys fishing.
Services will be at 10 a.m. Friday in Town Line Lutheran Church, 1159 Town Line Road, Alden.
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