Copyright notice

This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

Printer-friendly page
Average: 5 (1 vote)

Grady, Paul Davis

5 Sept. 1890–8 July 1970

Paul Davis Grady, businessman and legislator, was born in Seven Springs, Wayne County, the son of James Calhoun and Ella Smith Outlaw Grady. He attended Tennessee Military Institute and Wake Forest College and was graduated from Washington and Lee University. Admitted to the bar in 1911, he practiced in Smithfield and in Kenly, where he made his home. He represented Johnston County in the General Assembly from 1919 until 1921 and served in the Senate in 1925, 1933, and 1935; in the latter year he was president pro tempore. On 11 Apr. 1935 he introduced a bill to make Easter Monday a legal holiday in the state and it was passed by both houses. He was an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for nomination as lieutenant governor in 1936, for utilities commissioner in 1938, and for governor in 1940. Long associated with the insurance industry, Grady was chairman of the boards of Nationwide Life Insurance Company and of Tectum International; he was also a director of National Casualty Company, Northwestern National Life Insurance Company, North American Insurance Company, and others. For long periods he served on the boards of broadcasting, manufacturing, and investment corporations. Although he continued to maintain his home in Kenly, he had offices in Columbus, Ohio, and elsewhere. He owned and operated Grady Farms in Johnston County. In 1969 President Richard M. Nixon appointed him to the advisory board on minority business enterprise.

Grady was married in 1909 to Lelia Grace Swink, and they were the parents of Eloise (Mrs. Albert S. Eskridge), Elsie (Mrs. W. F. Rainey)*, Paul D., Jr., James C., and Fred. A Freemason and a Presbyterian, he was buried in the Kenly cemetery.

Additional information from NCpedia editors at the State Library of North Carolina: 

* Note: this DNCB entry incorrectly lists Elsie Grady as having been married to W.F. Rainey. This is incorrect. Ms. Grady died of blood poisoning at age 16, according to a relative of the family. W.F. Rainey was in fact married to Lelia Swink Grady Rainey. 


John L. Cheney, Jr., ed., North Carolina Government, 1585–1979 (1981).

Journal of the Senate of the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina (1935).

North Carolina Manual (1935).

William S. Powell, ed., North Carolina Lives (1962).

Raleigh News and Observer, 10 July 1970.

Additional Resources:

Connor, R. D. W. (Robert Digges Wimberly). History of North Carolina. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co. 1919. 338. (accessed March 19, 2014).

John Grady (1710-1787) of Dobbs and Duplin: With Some of His Descendants. P.D. Gold Publishing Company, 1930. 59, 86.

Angevine, Erma. In league with the future: personal sketches of the 129 men and women who have served as directors of the Cooperative League since 1916. Cooperative League of USA, 1959. 25.


Please note in correction to the above bio that my great-great aunt Elsie died at the age of 16 from blood poisoning, and my great-great aunt Lelia Swink Grady became Mrs. W. F. Rainey.

Excellent summation. Mr. Grady was the epitome of a Southern gentleman and one of the most effective legislators of his day.

Add a comment

PLEASE NOTE: NCpedia provides the comments feature as a way for viewers to engage with the resources. Comments are not published until reviewed by NCpedia editors at the State Library of NC, and the editors reserve the right to not publish any comment submitted that is considered inappropriate for this resource. NCpedia will not publish personal contact information in comments, questions, or responses. If you would like a reply by email, note that some email servers, such as public school accounts, are blocked from accepting messages from outside email servers or domains. If you prefer not to leave an email address, check back at your NCpedia comment for a reply. Please allow one business day for replies from NCpedia. Complete guidelines are available at