(An edited version of this article is published via The Globe Newspapers www.theglobenewspapers.com, All Rights Reserved)
It has been said that "Service is the rent that you pay here on Earth". Ralph James Grant lived his life such that he earned a "lease option to buy" for his service. It is with regret that I write this piece, especially given the fact that I was presented with an opportunity to write this while Ralph was living, but since he has forgiven me for many other shortcomings, such as giving him my tax information on April 14th, I know that he will let me slide on this one too.
Ralph J. Grant was has been a Bay Area icon and local legend for several decades. Although he was born in Philadelphia, Ralph is considered a local native who attended elementary school in West Oakland and graduated from McClymonds High School. Although Ralph liked sports, he wasn't playing around. He earned his Bachelors of Arts in Accounting at San Francisco State University and was initiated into the Gamma Alpha Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. That was not enough for Ralph, so he needed to earn a Masters of Business Administration from San Francisco State University and a Doctorate of Jurisprudence from Golden Gate University School of Law. While Ralph was shoring up his professional credentials, his life lacked completion, that is until he married Gloria Jean Yerger. Through their union, they were blessed with two children, Kimberley and Casey.
Ralph began his professional career as an Internal Revenue Service Agent with the United States Treasury Department in San Francisco. After five years, he started his own tax practice in Oakland and was later joined by Charles Adams and Donald White. They formed the Certified Public Accounting Firm of Adams, Grant, White & Co., which provided audit, tax and management consultant services. During this time Ralph taught taxation and small business management at San Francisco State University while also studying for his law degree. In 1990, Charlene Smith and Ralph formed Grant & Smith, LLP, a certified public accounting and management consulting firm specializing in tax, audit and accounting services. Ralph also became an officer and broker of RVS Realty & Mortgage Corporation, which specializes in residential and commercial real estate mortgages and sales and a partner of RVS Investment Advisors of California, LLC, a registered investment advisory firm, which provided financial advisory services. Ralph enjoyed using his law degree representing clients before the Internal Revenue Service and Franchise Tax Board.
In concert with his professional endeavors, Ralph had a passion for helping disadvantaged youth. He became an Oakland Babe Ruth Coach in 1985. His Bill Wright Payne team of 8-10 year olds, took 1st Place and he also coached 10-12 year olds in the "major" division. Ralph was affectionately known as "The Kappa" who worked tirelessly to allow disadvantaged youth in West Oakland afford the opportunity to play baseball by personally providing uniforms, transportation, food, and emotional support to his team members. His Babe Ruth coaching experience reached its crescendo when his team won the California State Championship, the Pacific Southwest Regional Championship, and the World Series Championship in Aberdeen, Maryland.
Ralph was a member of numerous organizations including Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., the National Associations of Black Accountants, American Institute of CPA’s, California Society of CPA’s, Charles Houston Bar Association, The National Bar Association and Babe Ruth Baseball of Metropolitan Oakland where he spent his “spare time” coaching and mentoring Oakland youth. He served as Treasurer and/or on the Board of Directors of the Oakland Museum Association, the Eddie Walker Memorial Scholarship Fund, The Marcus A. Foster Educational Institute, the National Youth Enterprise Institute, the Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce, USA/New South Africa Athletics Foundation, Donald McCullum Youth Court, the Oakland Private Industry Council, the Oakland Community Fund, the Black Elected Officials of the East Bay, the East Bay Resource Center for Non-Profit Support, and Campaign Treasurer for Don White, Ron Dellums, Gay Cobb and Gregory Hodge. Ralph served as past national Chairperson, Western Regional Representative and San Francisco Chapter Director of Continuing Professional Education for the National Association of Black Accountants ("NABA") Division of Firms ("DOF"), which he co-founded and that is comprised of the top Black CPA firms in the country to address the professional needs of its member firms and to foster the economic development of these firms in the business community at both the local and national level..
Some of the awards that Ralph has received are Accountant of the Year from San Francisco State, NABA DOF's Outstanding Member Award, and NABA's Presidential Service Award.
Ralph was the epitome of a man, he mastered the balance of being a child of God, good husband, father, professional, friend, and servant. I am grateful to have know him and work with him on various levels. Ralph was at work at the crack of dawn because that was his work ethic. God allowed him to go to London to see his daughter Kim, son-in-law, Lee, and granddaughters Kaylee and Layla before calling him home. Ralph had one more stop before he left, and Gloria was right at his side.
Kevin L. Nichols is an author, President and CEO of KLN Publishing. LLC located in San Francisco, California. For more information, please visit http://klnpublishingllc.blogspot.com.