Melva Jean Grady entered her heavenly reward at 4:00pm, Wednesday, November 4, 2020, just 56 days before her 91st birthday, in Hollister, Missouri. She lived a full and loving life of service to her Lord and to others. Known as Jean, she was born on December 30, 1929, in the small town of Seagoville, Texas, to father Leonard A. Knight, and mother, Ruby Thedford Knight. She is preceded in death by her husband of more than 50 years, W. Lee Grady, Jr., a Southern Baptist pastor with whom Jean served side by side for over 50 years of ministry, in the Dallas, Texas, Harlingen, Texas, and Branson, Missouri areas. She is survived by her son, Jim, and his wife, Kathy, daughter, Gloria, who spent the last seven years caring for Jean, brother, James A. Knight, and his wife, Ann, along with their children, Matt Knight, his wife, Anna Jo, and their son, Keeland, and James and Ann’s daughter, Kathy.
Jean graduated second in her high school class at Forrest Avenue High in Dallas, and because she had exceptional secretarial and executive administrative skills, immediately got a job as the personal assistant to Mr. Morton, founder, namesake, and CEO of Morton’s Potato Chips, ultimately sold to General Foods.
Having met future husband, Lee on a trip to Miami, Florida, when he left Miami in 1953 to study for the ministry at Baylor University, in Waco, Texas, they were soon married, and Jean left Morton’s to move to Waco, where her resume got her the position of personal secretary and assistant to the President of Baylor, which she held all four years of Lee’s time at Baylor, helping host luminaries from the President of the United States to Billy Graham.
She then transitioned into the roles of mother and pastor’s wife seamlessly, and was Lee’s partner in ministry for over 50 years. After her children left for college, she went back into executive secretarial roles at both Texas Instruments, in the night vision optics division, and at Hope Cottage Adoption Agency, where Roy Rogers and Dale Evans adopted two of their children, and helped host a special “homecoming” for Roy and Dale during her time there.
She was a classically trained soprano soloist, who played piano, and sang everywhere from a custom 78 rpm recording Mr. Morton paid for, as well as corporate functions and parties, to amazing duets with a young woman who was a featured soloist with the Dallas Symphony Chorus, and of course, too many church solos to count, as an anchor of the church choir.
She leaves an amazing legacy of love, faithfulness, commitment, and service, but after reuniting with her one love, Lee, in the presence of their Savior, the best is yet to come! “Well done thou good and faithful servant!”
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