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Dr. Gary Grant - Flying high with recognition award

Given the number of doctors in town he considers to be qualified and with good professional records, Dr. Gary Grant imagines it must have been the “other stuff” — also known as his community involvement — that put him into the spotlight and earned him this year’s Physician Recognition Award from the medical staff at Community Hospital.

That and his penchant for motorcycles and flying lessons, both of which admittedly reveal the slightly more dangerous side of a local doctor practicing internal medicine in the “Last Hometown” of Pacific Grove.

“Frankly, this award could have gone to a lot of other doctors,” says Grant. But Grant has served the community in a multitude of ways. He was medical director of the Visiting Nurses Association, medical director for Community Hospital’s Cardiopulmonary Wellness Program, chair of the hospital ethics committee, chair of the department of Internal Medicine, head of the hospital’s Weigh of Life nutrition program, and the doctor for the Pacific Grove High football team for 10 years.

Raised in Idaho and Oregon, on “both sides of the Snake River,” Grant had a nice, easy childhood during the ’60s — less hippie and more hunting and wholesome things, he says.

He went to college to become an engineer, mostly because he was good in math and science. But he soon realized that he liked the idea of working with people, so he channeled his talents into medicine. Although he earned his bachelor’s degree in Idaho, Grant graduated from the medical school at the University of Arizona, mostly because Idaho didn’t have one.

“I got through medical school on a nice Army scholarship, after which I had to pay back the Army for a few years, and that’s how I ended up at Fort Ord from 1980 to 1982,” says Grant. “I was an internist and ran the intensive care unit there.  It had a teaching program, and I taught family practice residents, nurse practitioners, and physician’s assistants, and was chosen outstanding teacher. Responsibility was thrust on me, and I thrived on it.”

Although he believes medical school ruined his golf game, Grant loves to get out on the course with his two sons — Jon, 23, and Ben, 27 — and his father. And although Grant is still riding those motorcycles, they began to feel a little “pedestrian” after 20 years, so he has switched his attention to flying. This past September, he soloed in a small, old-fashioned taildragger.

“The taildragger makes it harder to learn,” he says, “but you become a better pilot once you do.” He wouldn’t have it any other way.