Each year the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council honors one volunteer with the Hank Grateful award. An award for the volunteer who has worked tirelessly for the benefit of other trail users and thus honoring the exceptional devotion to trails that Mr. Grateful exhibited during his life.
By Malcolm Abzug, August 2001
Henry "Hank" Grateful, 81, died in his Santa Monica home on July 14. Grateful was one of the best-known builders of hiking trails in the Santa Monica Mountains, working as a long-time member of the Sierra Club's Santa Monica Mountains Task Force. Among his many accomplishments, he seemed to be proudest of his trail work. His telephone answering message started with "Hello, this is trail builder."
Grateful was active in the mountains until a month before the end. He had adopted the Los Liones Canyon Trail in Pacific Palisades, clearing brush and correcting erosion problems at least twice a week, all year round. Hikers who use that trail remember and miss him. He was an outdoorsman all of his life, as a hunter, fisherman, camper and scuba diver. Temescal Canyon Association awarded him a life membership in recognition of his contributions to the environment.
A combat infantryman in World War II, Grateful served in the difficult Italian campaign. His record shows engagement in seven battles, starting in Sicily and ending in the Po Valley campaign. After the war he became a high-level electronics technician at Motorola, in Phoenix. In recent years, Grateful was a volunteer at a Santa Monica senior citizen's center.
"Grateful" was the unusual last name adopted by Henry's father on emigration to the United States from Poland, in gratitude to his newly adopted country. Henry was born in Medina, New York, and is survived by a brother and sister.
A memorial service is planned for the fall by the Sierra Club and the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council near the trailhead of Hank Grateful's beloved Los Liones Canyon Trail.