Grant was born in Arlington Heights, Ill., to Lynn Marie Richert (Mildenberger) and Glenn Walter Mildenberger. Grant’s early years were spent in Palatine, Ill., attending grade school at Virginia Lake. His favorite teacher was Mrs. Riche. At age 9, we moved to Hebron, Ill., where he continued his education in the Hebron school system. Grant met our neighbors, the Elswicks, and became a part of their roofing crew for several years. As he learned how hard that was, he began thinking of other avenues to pursue. In 2003, he entered The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago, Ill., graduating in October 2005.
His first experiences being a chef were at the Chop House at the Grand Geneva in Lake Geneva, Wis., and later the Geneva Inn. We were able to sample an absolutely delicious five-course meal he prepared for us at the Geneva Inn. He was a very talented and creative chef who always aspired to perfection in his culinary achievements. In 2008, he moved to Pagosa Springs. He helped get The Ole Miner’s Steakhouse kitchen ready to open. He later became head chef there and created many amazing meals. Following this, he worked at Baccis/Marconis and lastly, The View restaurant. After seeing all of the people who have worked with Grant, I realized how many lives he had touched and how much they loved him.
He met his girlfriend, Courtney Sell, who became a huge part of his life. Courtney and her parents, Kim and Dick, gave him purpose and happiness. Courtney and Grant enjoyed canoeing, hiking, rock hunting (Grant loved rock hunting), and taking their dogs for a walk by the lake.
He learned his work ethics from his stepfather, Randall Richert, working alongside him building the gazebo at our home in Hebron, how to fish and enjoy nature. He learned patience and compassion from his father, Glenn Walter Mildenberger, as he spent time at his home with wife Lisa and sons Don and Jason. He learned how to enjoy life from his big brother, Ryan, who loved him dearly. From his mother, Lynn, he was sensitive and thoughtful, and from himself, a deep thinker, always wondering “why.”
He is survived by his mother, Lynn Marie Richert (Mildenberger); stepfather Randall Lewis Richert; father Glenn Walter Mildenberger and wife Lisa; brother Ryan William Mildenberger; stepsister Heather Druin; stepbrothers Don and Jason Mildenberger; along with his loving aunts and uncles, Gloria and Orrin Helms, Judy and Kurt Haimbaugh and Carol and Jay King. He leaves behind his cousins Brad and Darcy, Steve and Cassie, and Michele and Cristi, along with their beautiful families. On the Richert side are many step-cousins, aunts and uncles who live in Wisconsin and Illinois. Grant was preceded in death by his grandma, Mary Sandgren, grandpa Robert Sandgren, grandpa Jim Mildenberger and, most recently, grandpa Gordon Richert.
A beautiful Celebration of Life was held at the home of Kim and Dick Sell on Sunday, July 19. A beautiful mountain setting that Grant loved to visit, beautiful pictures, music he enjoyed, kind words and prayers, food prepared by people who loved and respected him, and many attendees who came to say goodbye to Grant. Thank you to all who made this so wonderful.
Grant, we will all miss your intelligence, sensitivity, kindness and humor. To those of us who really knew Grant, we realize how much he has touched so many lives. God bless you and may you rest in peace. You will live in our hearts forever.