Grant Collage

Grant’s official law enforcement photos: (L-R) Warrenton Town Police, circa 1970, Fauquier County Sheriff’s Department before retirement, as a Washington DC patrolman, 1961. 

Photos courtesy of the Grant Family

At a memorial service on December 5, 2022, it was with a heavy heart that family, friends, and a tight-knit community said their final goodbyes to retired Lieutenant Butler Lewis Alfonso Grant. As a beloved community member, Warrenton’s first Black town police officer, Fauquier’s first Black patrolman, and a spiritual leader, Grant was an admired and esteemed fixture in Fauquier.

Born in 1938, Grant grew up in Fauquier County and attended the segregated Rosenwald School. After high school, Grant became a police officer in Washington, DC briefly before being drafted into the Army in 1963.

After an honorable discharge in 1965, Grant returned to Fauquier and worked various jobs before landing a position with the Warrenton Police Department in 1969, a position he nearly turned down until his grandfather got involved. 

“When men of color came home from Vietnam it was a hard time — it was hard to find employment. So he came home and he would get a job anywhere he could and then he applied to the local police department. He didn’t actually want the job but his grandfather convinced him to take advantage of such a good opportunity,” said Grant’s daughter, Andrea.

Grant became the town’s first Black police officer and thrived in the position. Shortly thereafter, in the 1970s, he also became the area’s first Black paramedic, and in 1984 he became the area’s first Black Deputy Sheriff. Throughout his career, Grant went on to achieve a number of other breakthrough roles as a Black man in public service before his retirement in 2008, consistently working hard in each position to diligently serve the community.

“All I knew was that everybody called my dad a legend and an icon because of the barriers he broke through. He didn’t focus on that and he just wanted to do his job to the best of his ability and help other people,” Andrea said.

While working and helping to raise his children, Grant also found time to be active in church and in the community outside of the service he provided through his career. 

“He is remembered by many for his strong sense of community service and compassion for those in need,” Andrea says. “He was very service-oriented not just through being a first responder but as a community member as well.”

Grant would often visit those who were sick or housebound, bringing them groceries as well his company. He also became a minister and actively worked in prison ministry, visiting people who were incarcerated and praying with them, and even helping them to find a job after their prison term.

Additionally, Grant helped to better the area. He and Andrea’s mother Monique worked not only to have Mayor Lineweaver donate the land that is now Eva Walker Memorial Park -- they diligently cleaned it up as well. Today, the park, located in Old Town, is a clean, open space with playgrounds, basketball courts, horseshoe pits, picnic facilities, and trails.

For about two decades, Grant was also active with View Tree Masonic Lodge 142 and was Past Master from the 1990s to the 2000s in Warrenton, Virginia. He was also active with Knights of Pythias, reaching the second to the highest level in the organization that is committed to mentoring young men.

Outside of his public service, ministry, community contributions, and mentorship, Grant was a humble man known for his love of his family, football, basketball, and their gremlin-resembling Shih Tzu named Sam.

“He was very plain, simple -- he always drove an old pickup and he liked flannel shirts from Walmart. He had simple tastes and was very big on family. He was a great researcher and a great historian and helped a lot of people,” said Andrea.

After Grant retired, out of necessity given a law that the then-Governor passed prohibiting active police work past the age of 70, he opted to work for the local Lowe’s. He remained there for nine years, happily interacting with the same community members he’d grown to know throughout his time in public service. 

Grant’s impact on the community was so profound that Andrea has had countless people tell her about their interactions with him from men who share how positively her father affected their lives to a woman who credits Grant for saving her life when her own father was driving under the influence.

The same gratitude for Grant’s many years of contribution to the community was palpable when Fauquier County’s Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook after his memorial service. Many posted thanks for his service and condolences to the family while others warmly used one of his nicknames, “Uncle Buddy,” in their messages. One poster enthusiastically praised the Sheriff’s Office for posting about him, emphatically stating that he was a man who made history and others posted sentimental remembrances of their time with him at their high school, at Lowe’s, in the community, or as a colleague. 

One post, however, by Chrissy Black, seems to capture everyone’s feelings about Grant in one simple, heartfelt sentence.

“What a great man.”   

This article to be published in the February 2023 issue of Warrenton Lifestyle

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