St. Viator star was among the best players of his era

  • Chuck Grandt played college basketball at Lewis University in Romeoville.

    Chuck Grandt played college basketball at Lewis University in Romeoville.

  • Chuck Grant

    Chuck Grant

Published: 4/22/2009 12:01 AM

One of the area's most memorable all-state basketball players, who made a name for himself shooting free throws underhanded, passed away last week.

Chuck Grandt was one of 10 players - and the only suburban player - named to the All-State team back in 1965 after being selected to the Daily Herald All-Area Team, back when only five players from across the entire readership were named.

Mr. Grandt passed away on April 11 from pulmonary fibrosis. The Arlington Heights native was 61.

He was a member of the second graduating class from St. Viator High School, and the first to attend all four years at the Arlington Heights school.

Chuck Erfort, of Port Barrington, played guard on the St. Viator team with Mr. Grandt through their years together.

"He was such an inspiring guy to play with," Erfort says. "He kept going and going, and wouldn't let you stop. He was seemingly tireless."

They played under a pair of former DePaul University coaches, Ron Feireisel and Larry Nomellini, who believed so strongly in the consistency of the underhanded free throw technique that every player in the St. Viator program had to use it.

"It was hard at first to make the adjustment, and we got laughed at when we played at other schools. But it was pretty productive," Erfort says. "Chuck must have made nearly 90 percent of his free throws."

Beyond his percentages at the line, Erfort describes Mr. Grandt as their true center, based on his tremendous jumping ability and tenacious defense.

"He was only 6-4, but he was so assertive in the middle he would grab all the rebounds," Erfort adds. "We had another guy on the team who was 6-8, but he was a forward. Charlie played like a big center, even though he was only 6-4."

St. Viator officials describe Mr. Grandt as their first student athlete to earn all-state honors, and they named him to the school's Athletic Hall of Fame in 2000. A plaque engraved with his name remains on display in the school's Boler Center.

Bob Frisk, the former Daily Herald assistant managing editor for high school sports, still describes Mr. Grant as one of the best he watched in his more than 50 years of covering basketball.

"He had tremendous leaping ability, could score inside and out, and he did a great job on the defensive end of the floor as a rebounder." Frisk says. "To this day, he was one of the most electrifying basketball players to come out of this area."

Mr. Grandt fielded scholarship offers to play basketball at places like the University of Wisconsin and DePaul University, but he chose Lewis University in Romeoville, where he was among the school's scoring leaders, his brothers say.

"He wanted to go to a smaller program where his family could watch him, and he knew he could play," his brother, Bill Grandt of Arlington Heights, adds.

After college, Mr. Grandt taught seventh and eighth graders at Queen of the Rosary School in Elk Grove Village before building a career in construction.

Besides his brother Bill, he is survived by another brother, Jim; his wife, Susan A. McKay; son Charlie; stepchildren Karen (David) Gregorio, Katie (Brian) Savoia and Elizabeth (Chris Mennis) Kolman; and five grandchildren.

Services have been held.