Dr. Jesse C. Grady’s legacy is one of service and instruction to a multitude of young agricultural economics undergraduates. After graduating from Texas A&M University in 1949 with the B.S. degree and in 1950 with the M.S., he proceeded to earn the Ph.D. at the University of Missouri. Thereafter, he taught for 13 years on the faculty at the University of Missouri (1952-1964), attaining the rank of Professor of Agricultural Economics. Following a brief period at the Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas (1964-1967), Dr. Grady returned to Texas A&M in 1967, assuming the role of Associate Head for Undergraduate Programs. During the ensuing 23 years (1967-1989), he directed the undergraduate program through a period of unparalleled growth at the University, in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and in the Department of Agricultural Economics. Undergraduate enrollment soared from 178 students in 1967 to 842 in 1982. During this time, more than 3,300 students received undergraduate degrees in Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M University with their hometowns spanning both large and small towns of Texas, across the United States, and throughout the world. During this period, he also taught AGEC 105, “Introduction to Agricultural Economics,” and AGEC 314, “Marketing Agricultural Products.” More than 6,900 students enrolled in his Texas A&M courses.
Dr. Grady’s intellect, quick and dry wit, and genuine interest in the future of his students are legendary. Never one to sugarcoat a situation, he challenged all students to do their best. Dr. Grady always found time to meet with students to discuss matters such as course options, career opportunities, and the broad spectrum of issues relating to graduation. In addition, he was a frequent advisor to the Agricultural Economics Club, giving freely of his time and counsel. In the classroom, his students quickly learned that passing Dr. Grady’s exams prepared them well for their upper-level courses as well as helped them develop solid studying habits for he overlooked few details during the preparation of his tests.
Several former students, some of them members of the Tyrus R. Timm Honor Registry, credit Dr. Grady with helping instill in them a fundamental knowledge of economics, marketing, agribusiness, and decision-making; they remember his words of encouragement in the worst of times and his praise and appreciation at all times. Both majors and nonmajors appreciated Dr. Grady’s commitment to excellence in and out of the classroom; he was named the College’s Honor Professor in 1974 and received the Association of Former Students-University Level Teaching Award in 1975. At the time of his retirement in 1989, many of his former students contributed to the establishment of a scholarship in his name to be given to an undergraduate in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M. Of all the awards he received, he cherishes most those which were presented by the students he taught and counseled. Dr. Grady knew what education had done for him, and he wanted to pass on that opportunity to as many young people as he could.
A native of Pecan Gap, Texas (Delta County), Dr. Grady served in the Coast Guard and Navy during World War II in the Pacific Theater including the invasion of Iwo Jima. He and his wife of 62 years, Ann, reside in Dallas. They have two sons, Doug ‘75 and Tom ‘78.