Former Franklin police chief dies

Published 9:16 am Friday, August 31, 2012

FRANKLIN—Former Franklin Police Chief John Graden “Grady” Britt died Wednesday, the day he was to be released from a Norfolk hospital after suffering a heart attack.

The 79-year-old’s death was unexpected.

“The morning he died, he was supposed to be sent to Southampton Memorial Hospital for physical therapy and he died in the middle of the night,” said Ginger Britt, his wife of 20 years. “Everyone thought he had a wonderful recovery.”

Britt had a heart attack three weeks ago and was transferred from SMH in Franklin to Sentara Heart Hospital.

“(Prior to having a heart attack) he was in really good health,” Britt said. “He was very active. He walked, rode the bicycle, did yard work and worked with the church.”

The father of six and an officer on the Franklin force for 30 years, law enforcement was “a way of life for him,” Britt said.

“He took it very seriously,” she said. “The one thing he always said to the younger officers was to take every advanced course offered. Always strive for something better.”

Grady Britt was very proud about graduating from the FBI Academy in Quantico, she said.

A member of Sycamore Baptist Church in Franklin, he was active in the choir, Easter drama, as a greeter and with Sunday school.

“He was always a person I looked forward to seeing,” said the Rev. Dr. Roger Crump, pastor at Sycamore Baptist. “He had this huge smile that lit up the place.”

Crump was with Britt when he passed

“It was a pretty emotional thing,” he said. “This whole episode lasted three weeks, I guess, and it took its toll on him and on the family of course.”

“It was kind of a shock,” Crump continued. “All of us expected him to get better and jump back from this and get back to his old self again. Suddenly it didn’t happen. It was like the floor was pulled out from under us.”

Jim Hart, worshipful master with the Franklin Masonic Lodge No. 151 A.F.&A.M., was there when Grady Britt received his 50-year membership pin.

During the ceremony, Hart shared the story about driving to school and Britt stopping him for driving past a school bus with its red stoplights on.

“Grady was behind me in the police car, and when I went past the bus, he hollered ‘hold it right there, Jim Hart.’ I immediately pulled over and he gave me a talking like any father or grandfather,” he said.

Hart told Britt during the presentation he never did that again.

Hart referred to Britt as an old school police officer.

“When Franklin was a smaller town and all the police knew all the kids and all the people and what they were up to . . . he counseled and corrected us,” Hart said. “The worse thing you wanted to hear from someone like Grady was ‘I’m going to tell your daddy when I see him.’”