Esther Fannie Granton, 66, a correspondent and columnist for Ebony and Jet magazines and a recognized authority on black affairs in Washington, was found dead Monday in her Washington apartment. The cause of death was a heart attack.
Miss Granton had worked for the Johnson Publications Co., the publishers of Ebony and Jet, for the past 24 years and was the deputy chief of its Washington bureau at the same time of her death. She was widely known for "Washington Scene," a weekly column published in Jet.
She covered the White House, Capitol Hill, the State Department, Embassy Row, the civil rights movement and other subjects. She wrote about matters of interest to blacks and it is said that no black ever appeared on a White House guest list whose name she did not record for her readers.
Beyond that, Miss Granton became a kind of unofficial social adviser to the White House on blacks. She suggested names of blacks who should be invited to the White House, saw that presidents and first ladies were introduced to them when they got there, and sometimes helped correct oversights on the part of officials. She once said that she considered this part of her job as a reporter, and as a reporter she covered an important aspect of life in Washington that previously had been unknown to those who were not part of it.
"She knew the community so well, she knew exactly the right person to call to help smooth over (a) dreadful mistake," John Calhoun, an aide in the Ford White House, said at a party honoring Miss Granton, a year ago. "And she was the first person I would call when we needed to know people, especially press people for briefings."
At that party, Miss Granton told an interviewer she was able to do what she did simply because "I know all those people. The knowledge comes from living here for years, having started with the old segregated social agencies, working with Southeast House. I knew Flaxie Pinkett's dad. Having gone to Howard . . . knowing the Mordecat Johnsons."
Miss Granton was born in Newport News, Va., and grew up there and in Washington. She graduated from Armstrong High School here and then attended Howard University. She interrupted her studies there to take a degree in religious education at Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C. She earned a degree in social work from Atlanta University, and for the next several years she was a professional social worker.
She worked with the National Urban League in New Jersey and Texas. In the mid-1940s, she returned to Washington. She was a social worker with the National Capital Housing Authority and worked with the Southeast and Southwest community houses. She also studied law at American University.
In 1956, she joined the Washington bureau of Johnson Publications, and one of the first things she did was help organize an open house party in connection with the second inaugural of President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1957.
"Members of the Supreme Court, the Congress and everyone else came," Miss Granton recalled last year. "It was the talk of the town."
At first, Miss Granton was the business manager of the Johnson bureau. She gradually worked her way into reporting and writing.
As a White House correspondent, she made several trips with former president and Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson and accompanied Mrs. Patricia Nixon on two overseas trips.
A frequent guest at White House, embassy and similar functions, she herself was a hostess whose guests included many of the people about whom she wrote.
Miss Granton was a member of the Washington Press Club.
Her survivors include a sister, Alice Anderson, of Lanham, and a brother, Louis Granton, of Washington.