Theodore S. Grant, a Long Island minister who opened the doors of his church to the homeless and started a soup kitchen for the hungry, has died. He was 86.
Grant, a longtime Hicksville resident, grew up on an East Meadow farm, where he developed a lifelong love of gardening. But his true passion was for the ministry and helping the needy, said a daughter, Susan Grant, of Washington, D.C.
"Growing up, the phone was always ringing with people who needed help and had problems," she said. "And he never said no."
After graduating from Hempstead High School, Theodore Grant attended Adelphi University, where he earned bachelor's and master's degrees in social work. He received a doctorate from the San Francisco Theological Seminary.
He met his wife Nancy while riding the Long Island Rail Road, the family said. They married in 1951.
After he served in the Army stationed in Maryland, the couple moved to Pennsylvania so he could attend the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, where he was ordained.
The Grants moved to Queens in the mid-1950s, where he worked as a minister at two Lutheran churches. In 1966, he became director of Nassau County's Office of Lutheran Family and Community Services.
During Grant's 18-year tenure at Hicksville's Redeemer Lutheran Church, it was dubbed "church of the open door" because he left the vestibule open at night so homeless people had a warm, dry place to sleep, his daughter said.
After leaving the church in 1990, he used his skills as a licensed therapist, opening the Ecumenical Consultation Center in Hicksville, a mental health clinic for low-income people.
Grant served as chaplain for the Hicksville Fire Department for more than 30 years and was involved in numerous civic groups, his daughter said.
Susan Grant fondly remembered her father's warmth and compassion, noting the time she came home from college and found that he had taken in a family of Vietnamese refugees. They stayed for about a year, she said.
Theodore Grant died in his home on April 16 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Other survivors include his wife and a brother, Edward Grant of Ulster, Pennsylvania; a son, Theodore Grant Jr. of Massapequa; another daughter, Julie Kinney of East Patchogue; seven grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter.
Grant was buried at St. Margaret's Cemetery in Plainview.