For Immediate Release:
August 20, 2021
Kay Grant Martin, significant donor to Culture & Heritage Museums and daughter of legendary Vernon Grant, has died
ROCK HILL, S.C. – Kay Grant Martin, daughter of noted illustrator and commercial artist Vernon Grant and Elizabeth Fewell Grant, has died at the age of 77. Martin and her brother, Vernon O. “Chip” Grant, were instrumental in preserving their father’s legacy as a visionary for the City of Rock Hill.
Kay Grant was born in New York City in 1943 and moved with her family to Rock Hill in 1947 when her mother inherited the family farm. Her father farmed the land and continued his work as a commercial artist, became director for the Rock Hill Chamber of Commerce in 1958, co-founded the city’s Come-See-Me festival in 1961-62, and then became director for the Housing Authority in 1965. She attended Rock Hill High School and was a member of the Bearcats’ Class of 1961. She married Keith Martin in 1990 and the couple resided in Pawleys Island after his retirement. Kay Grant Martin died after a battle with cancer at her summer home in Brewster, Massachusetts.
Kay Grant Martin and her brother, Chip Grant, were awarded Culture & Heritage Museums’ Keepers of the Culture Award in 2005. They donated the family’s collection of Vernon Grant artwork to Culture & Heritage Museums in 2006, after being on loan since 1979. The collection consisted of more than 2100 artworks and memorabilia and also included a large quantity of archival material. Martin continued to add to the museums’ collection up until early 2021; her last donation included never-before-seen original sketches and paintings of her father’s work.
According to Martin’s obituary, published by Citizens Voice from Aug. 15 to Aug. 16, 2021, “There will be no formal services. In lieu of flowers, for those so inclined, memorial contributions can be made to All4Paws Animal Rescue of Pawleys Island, the Smith Clinic in Pawleys Island or to Culture & Heritage Museums of York County.”
About Vernon Grant:
Culture & Heritage Museums are stewards of the Vernon Grant Collection, one of the most significant collections of commercial art in America, serving not only as a testament to Grant’s talent and popularity, but also as a reflection of the times in which he lived.
Vernon Grant’s whimsical art is the inspiration for the storybook playscapes of Main Street Children’s Museum and the Museum of York County’s Tot Town. Vernon Grant’s vintage artwork is the hallmark of two award-winning annual events in the City of Rock Hill: the Come-See-Me Festival and ChristmasVille. Grant created Come-See-Me’s mascot Glen the Frog and the distinctive Santa Clauses, gnomes and winterscapes of ChristmasVille.
About Culture & Heritage Museums of York County, S.C.
Culture & Heritage Museums is a family of museums that includes the Museum of York County and Main Street Children’s Museum in Rock Hill; Historic Brattonsville in McConnells; and the McCelvey Center, which includes the Lowry Family Theater, the Historical Center of York County, and the Southern Revolutionary War Institute, in York. Culture & Heritage Museums is a Smithsonian Affiliate and is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums; accreditation signifies “excellence and credibility to the entire museum community, to governments and outside agencies and to the museum-going public.”