Bridge named for Harry Lee McGrady

By Michael Howlett Staff Writer

September 26, 2013

Close to 100 people turned out for the dedication ceremony of the Harry Lee McGrady Bridge on Sept. 18. The bridge, located on U.S. Business Rt. 58 and Rt. 669, spans the Rt. 58 bypass.

The land that the bridge and by-pass rest on was once part of McGrady’s farm. In fact, the 28 acres of McGrady’s land used in the bypass project represents the largest amount of land taken in Carroll County and the second largest amount of land taken for the entire project, according to Robbie Williams, Salem District construction engineer for the Virginia Department of Transportation.

The naming of the bridge for McGrady got its start with the Carroll County Board of Supervisors, who unanimously passed a resolution on Feb. 11 to do just that. Supervisor Sam Dickson spoke for the board when he said “everybody agreed whole heartedly that this needed to be done.”

Jonathan McGrady, Harry’s grandson, told the crowd assembled that the first thing his grandfather might say if alive today was “What is everybody doing in my pasture?”

“I want to thank everyone for being here. We very much appreciate it as a family,” he added.

Jonathan also recounted several memories he had helping his grandfather on the farm.

“He used to pay me and my brother Chad a penny for every thistle we dug up. It takes a lot of thistles to make a dollar,” he said.

Harry Lee McGrady served in the U.S. Army Air Forces for six and a half years. During World War II, after being trained as an advanced engineer, McGrady was stationed in Britain, serving as a crew chief assigned to repair bombers damaged in combat. After the war, McGrady was stationed at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, where he served as a flight engineer transporting high-ranking officers, dignitaries and scientists around the U.S.

He was later employed for 25 years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Service, during which time he designed numerous farm ponds, spring development systems and strip-cropping plans in Carroll, Grayson, Wythe and Bland counties. McGrady was also elected by the voters of Carroll County to several terms on the New River Soil and Water Conservation District Board.

McGrady, who operated a beef cattle farm for over 50 years, was a member of the Hillsville Christian Church where he served as Deacon, Elder and chairman of the board. In addition, he was a member of Hillsville Masonic Lodge 193 for over 50 years and served as Worshipful Master in 1966, and a member of Grover King Post 1115.

McGrady passed away in 2011 at the age of 89. Members of his family present for the dedication were his wife Helen Webb McGrady, who taught home economics at Hillsville and Carroll County high schools; his son Joe McGrady, who has been practicing law in Carroll County since 1973; his daughter-in-law Ann McGrady, who taught kindergarten in Carroll County for many years; his grandson Jonathan McGrady, joined his father’s law practice in 1995; daughter-in-law Jennifer McGrady, who taught kindergarten in Carroll County; his grandson, Chad McGrady, who started his own law practice in Alaska 10 years ago; and four great-grandchildren, Molly, Jon, Sam and Alex McGrady. In addition, he is also survived by his brother, Samuel Jackson (Jack), and his wife, Mary Lee.