Henry Grady III continues great-great-grandfather’s legacy


Nafez Zohbi

GENERATIONS OF GRADY: Henry Grady III stands with a bust of his great-great-grandfather, Henry W. Grady, after whom Grady High School is named. The bust is in the Grady library.

In 1947, Atlanta Public Schools opened one of its first co-ed schools, Henry W. Grady High School, which was the renaming of the old Boys High School, to honor of one of the most influential people in the South, Henry W. Grady.

Boys High School was founded in the early stages of reconstruction after the Civil War, during the time Henry Grady was alive and impacting the South. Grady owned the Atlanta Journal newspaper during this time, giving him control of what was released to the public. His main goal was to bring everyone to the South and begin to grow Atlanta into a commercial city through education and healthcare —hence Grady High School and Grady Hospital.

Grady helped make Atlanta what it is today, and his great-great-grandson, Henry Grady III, continues his legacy. Grady III is the manager of hospital and health system relationships for SunTrust Bank in Atlanta.

“SunTrust itself stretches all up and down the east coast and goes as far west as Memphis, Tennessee, so there are a lot of hospitals and health systems in that footprint that I help to manage,” Grady said.

Not only does Grady III help with wellness relations for SunTrust, he also spends a good amount of his time volunteering in the community that his great-great-grandfather helped create. He has helped get Grady Memorial Hospital out of financial crisis and has worked with Georgia Works, an organization focused on curing homelessness in Atlanta, and the Student Aid Foundation, which focuses on getting women education after high school.

“Growing up here, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to volunteer, get involved in organizations and to hopefully be meaningful and affect change,” Grady said.

In addition to the volunteer work he does for the community, Grady III is on the board for the Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Georgia, which was named after Grady in 1915. Grady III has been involved with the college for 10 years now, and played a major role in hiring current dean, Charles N. Davis, who is a former journalist.

“I have known Henry now for five years,” Davis said. “He is a tremendous supporter and friend of the college. Because of the Grady lineage, Henry has always been interested in [the college] and [has often been] the life of the college.”

Grady III works with the college but spends most of his time in Atlanta working. The Grady name is well-known in Atlanta, which brings a lot of publicity and questions from people, but Grady III doesn’t take this as a bad thing.

“Often people will meet me and assume that I am a doctor or teacher because of the high school and hospital,” Grady said. “Many things have been named in his memory, which is kind of neat to look around and be in places that might have your name on it, but it’s also hard to hide. You can’t be completely anonymous, and that’s okay. I embrace it because I know the history.”

In recent years, there has been controversy over places dedicated to people like Henry Grady because of his Confederate ties. A middle school in Houston, Texas named after Grady was renamed in 2016 for this reason.

“I think a good way to put it is that there is a misunderstanding, and typically, it’s a lack of connectivity to the time of the 1800’s,” Grady III said of current-day perceptions of his great-great-grandfather. “How can we relate to what was going on back then? It was a completely different time. From family conversations and what’s been passed down, I believe that his heart was in the right place: building Atlanta.”

Since Grady III has three daughters, he will be the last Henry Grady, but he does have a cousin, Rob Grady who also attended UGA and is currently living in Atlanta. Rob Grady is a marketing consultant in healthcare compliance education and one of Henry Grady III’s best friends.

“There is no one who respects our family heritage and embodies much of the advocacy for the city and the life of the city more than my cousin,” Rob Grady said of Grady III. “He has used his respect for his heritage to make Atlanta a better place for a lot of people.”