Jean Donat Grenier was born in November 24 1909 in Manchester, New Hampshire,
the son of Canadian immigrants, Alphonse and Ursula Nora (Gadbois) Grenier. He grew up at 302 Cartier Street, and then later 370 Rimmon Street, receiving an elementary education at Hevey School. He graduated from West High School in 1926, and went on to attend the University of New Hampshire, where he was active in sports.
He was an acclaimed boxer at UNH, winning most bouts during three years of varsity competition, fighting in the 160-pound class. He was elected co-captain of the boxing team under Coach Pal Reed, with his brother Jacques (who was later director of athletics at Middletown, CT). While at UNH Jean Grenier held the state amateur boxing championship in the 160-pound class, and earned three boxing letters at UNH for the years 1928, 1929 and 1930.
Jean Grenier also excelled in other sports at UNH, winning his football varsity letter in
1928. He was a member of the baseball team in 1929. He also played basketball and tennis. After his graduation from UNH in 1930, he attended graduate school for one year, and became an assistant boxing coach.
In the summer of 1932 while diving into the Merrimack River, Jean Grenier broke his neck in two places, but he made a complete recovery. The following July he entered the United States Air Corps, and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant at Kelly Field in 1938. For two summers he attended Camp Devens (now known as Fort Devens).
On 16 February 1934, as a member of the Third Attack Group, Fort Crockett, Texas he was piloting a mail plane between Salt Lake City and Cheyenne Wyoming. His craft, a Curtiss A-12 pursuit plane, iced-up during a snow storm and dense fog. His plane crashed in Weber Canyon, near Oakley, Utah. Also killed was Second Lieutenant Edward D. White, March Field, Riverside, California. “Hours later a miner, found the wreckage and bodies…in the cockpit of their ship.” [Trenton Evening Times]
His body was returned to Manchester and more than 2,000 people attended his military funeral services. He is buried in Mt. Calvary cemetery.
On 22 February 1942, Manchester New Hampshire’s airbase, at that time belonging to the United States Army, was renamed in his honor. According to the Manchester Airport’s history page: “In 1968 the Air Force relocates all remaining flying units to other air bases and transfers control of Grenier Field to the municipalities of Manchester and Londonderry. In 1978 Grenier Field/Manchester Municipal Airport was officially renamed Manchester Airport.”
New Hampshire Missing Places: Grenier Field (or Grenier Air Base)
A Window into World War II: Grenier Field aka Manchester (NH) Airport
New Hampshire’s Aviation Museum: A Bridge Between Past and Present
1. Oracle, Manchester Central High School, Vol XXXXVIII, April 1942, No. 3, page 17
2. Lindbergh vs. Roosevelt: The Rivalry That Divided America, By James Duffy, page 23
3. FamilySearch, A Service Provided by the Church of the Latterday Saints.
4. Boston Herald Newspaper
5. Trenton Evening Times (Trenton NJ) February 17, 1934, page 1