Alan Ward Graning Jr

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Alan Ward Graning Jr., of Jackson and formerly of Natchez, died Sunday, July 22, 2018. He was 86.

A celebration of his life will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 1, at the home of Ward and Susan Graning, 105 Sergeant S. Prentiss Drive in Natchez.

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Mr. Graning was born July 27, 1931, in Natchez, the son of Alan Ward Graning Sr. and Sara Graning. He spent his early years in Knoxville, Tennessee, and attended Baylor Military School as well as Natchez High School. He attended and played football at Sewanee and attended the University of Mississippi before enlisting in the U.S. Air Force, where he was stationed in Newfoundland and Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi.

He returned to Natchez in 1958 and married Rose Kelly Junkin. A local businessman for more than 40 years, Mr. Graning’s interests included Graning Oil Co. and several other businesses. He was active in the community, serving as alderman for Ward 1 from 1968 until 1992. An active member of St. Mary Catholic Church, he served as president of the board at Cathedral School, where his six children attended and graduated, and was president of the Natchez Swim Team. He was an avid golfer and pilot, as well as a dedicated and doting father who loved nothing more than watching his children grow up and participate in sports.

A lifelong athlete and sportsman, Mr. Graning served as a football referee from the 1960s through the 1990s, including a 28-year career with the SEC, where he officiated many bowl games including the 1987 National Championship Fiesta Bowl between Miami and Penn State. He was one of the founders of the Miss-Lou Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame. He won a lifetime achievement award from the All-American Football Foundation for being one of the best SEC officials and was the recipient of the Contributions to Amateur Athletics Award from the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame.

After retiring, he wrote a guest column for The Natchez Democrat known as “It’s Official.”

He was preceded in death by his wife, Rose Kelly Junkin Graning; a daughter, Jennifer Kelly Graning; a sister, Mina “Sis” Graning Stowers; and his parents.

Survivors include his second wife, Loretta Defoe Graning and her children; his children, Kathy Graning, Sissy Graning Dicks, Ward Graning and wife Susan, Jane Graning Weems and husband Sam, Tom Graning, and Margaret Graning Beesley and husband Craig; grandchildren, Shaye Hope McAdory, Hunter Hope, Baylee Graning, Kelly Graning, Aylette Dicks, John Dicks, Kerry Dicks, Thomas Graning, Wright Graning, Taylor Beesley, Andrew Beesley and Emma Weems; great-grandchildren, Charlotte Book and Reese and John Parker Hope; a brother, Chick Graning and wife Millicent; brothers-and-sisters-in-law, Kate and Fred Ferguson, Dick and Pat Junkin, Louise and Duke Mallory and John R. Junkin II; and numerous nieces and nephews.

The family wishes to thank the staff of St. Joseph Hospice and the Mississippi State Veterans Home.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made to the Cathedral C Club, 701 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Natchez, MS. 39120.