We Remember

"Up, up the long delirious burning blue; I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.

Where never lark, or even eagle flew; And while with silent, lifting mind I've trod

The high, untrespassed sanctity of space; Put out my hand, and touched the face of God."


Man of Avon: John Victor Grainger ’46

John Victor Grainger III (1927 - 2019)


John Victor Grainger III, 92, of Wilmington, NC, passed away on December 2, 2019. He was born in Wilmington, North Carolina on November 25, 1927, son of the late Isaac Bates Grainger and Catherine Garrett Grainger. In addition to his parents, he was pre-deceased by brothers Isaac Bates Grainger, Jr. and William Garrett Grainger.

Surviving are his two sons, John Victor Grainger IV (wife Jennifer) of Charlotte, NC and Stuart Montgomery Grainger (wife Anne) of Wilmington, NC; grandchildren Anne Tyson Grainger Lee (husband David), Catherine Taylor Grainger, and John Reston Grainger; great-granddaughter Walker Frances Lee.

Vic was educated at Avon Old Farms School in Avon, Connecticut and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He entered the US Navy at age 17 in 1944, serving in the Pacific with Naval Air Transport Squadron VR-11, a crew member primarily on a Douglas R5D Skymaster flying out of Honolulu.

Following his time in the Navy and completion of education, he worked with the American Express Company as a bank representative, in both the United States and abroad, during which time he contributed to the creation and development of what would become the American Express Card.

He left American Express in 1960 to manage and own a Cessna Aircraft dealership in Lakeland, Florida until 1963, at which time he returned to American Express. He was sent to Asia as a Far East Manager based in Hong Kong. Later, as the war in Vietnam expanded, he joined Continental Air Services as a pilot operating in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.

In 1970, he joined ITT in New York, eventually returning to Hong Kong, serving as a Marketing Director for the Far East. Following his retirement, he became re-associated with American Express, working in Africa and Asia.

As a youngster, Vic loved airplanes and developed what would become a life-long interest in aviation. He made his first solo flight at age 16, got his private pilot license at age 17, and his commercial license after leaving military service. He was a member of the Royal Aero Club, National Aeronautic Association, Federation Aeronautique Internationale, Experimental Aircraft Association, the Caterpillar Club, and Soaring Society of America. During his life he logged several thousand hours of pilot flying time.

He was a Life Member of the NRA, the Hong Kong Club, Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, Foreign Correspondents Club, and Royal Jockey Club. He was also a member of the Mayflower Society, Society of Colonial Wars, the Carolina Yacht Club, and for a number of years was associated with the International Game Fish Association.

From his years in Hong Kong, he is remembered for cruising the harbor in his 80 foot junk, racing a Lotus 18 in the Macau Grand Prix, and taking small roles in locally filmed movies.

In his later decades, Vic loved international travel above all else, particularly on long sea voyages. During his life, he saw most corners of the globe, sometimes finding himself arriving on the eve of major social unrest (Tiananmen Square in 1989, for example), but managing to survive demonstrations, riots, local wars, and coups. He established long friendships in the many places he visited. He often said that South Africa and The Azores were the two most beautiful countries he had seen.

The family would like to particularly thank Pam Andler, Kathryn Monroe, Steve Snyder, Dr. Carlos Arrieta, and Dr. Gregory Roberts with the cardiology department at Wilmington Health. The family also thanks the many generous volunteers and professionals at Lower Cape Fear Hospice.

A private burial service will be held for close family members and friends at Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington, The Reverend Chris Hamby of St. James Episcopal Church presiding. The family is being served by Andrews Mortuary.

Memorial gifts may be made to:

The Experimental Aviation Association Foundation, PO Box 3816, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, 54903-3816, or Lower Cape Fear Hospice, 1414 Physicians Drive, Wilmington, NC, 28401.

Condolences may be shared with the family at

Published in Charlotte Observer on Dec. 7, 2019

▲ Write a Comment or Memory

To leave a written message on the legacy page of this Avon Old Farms brother, please click on the gray box above that says "Comments". You will be asked to enter your name and email address in addition to your comment. It may take up to 48 hours for the comment to appear. If you have any questions regarding commenting on a legacy page, please contact