Solo(w you can’t hear me)

I have been asked for quite some time to provide a digital copy of the eulogy I composed for Granddad Jess. I suppose I finally thought it was the right time, so here I am copy-pasting from an old Word document into Medium. For those unfamiliar with my grandfather’s sense of humor (regardless of whether or not you were present for the funeral), the title is a reference to a joke (more of a pun, really) that he used to tell with regularity.

The joke went something like this: “You know kids, I once asked the choir director if I could sing with the choir, and he responded to me, saying, ‘Yes, Jess! Of course! Absolutely! But only on one condition: You’ll have to sing solo.’ ‘Solo?’ I replied. ‘I didn’t realize my talents were that much in demand!’ ‘Oh, you’ll certainly have to sing solo: Solow the church can’t hear you!’” I always got a good laugh out of that joke, no matter how many times he told it. What follows is, verbatim, the text that I read at the funeral. God bless you, Granddad.

A Eulogy for Jesse Homer Grimm

Jess Grimm, or Granddad as I call him, was one of the greatest men I have ever had the pleasure to meet. But he’s more than that: He was a mentor, a confidante, and a friend. What more could I ask for? But let me give you some background:

Granddad, long before he was anyone’s grandfather, grew up in small-town West Virginia — coal mining territory. His father once took him into the mines, and said, “Jess, did you enjoy yourself?”

“No, sir, I must admit that I did not,” Jess responded.

“Good,” his dad said. “Stay in school so you never have to go back in there.”

My grandfather did just that. And after graduating from high school, he enlisted in the Air Force, eventually serving in Air Force Intelligence.

After his stint serving our country, Jess enrolled himself and his high school sweetheart-turned wife, Joyce, in four-year degree programs under the GI Bill. They both studied education, with Joyce specializing in special education while Jess focused on education management. In the end, he merged the two fields that he and his wife studied in the creation of York County’s first Gifted Education program.

Jess worked in other capacities as well, throughout his life, including work as a computer sales manager; and the job from which he retired, that of founder, owner, and chief executive officer for Other Options. Jess had seen how, in many a state meeting regarding treatment of individuals with intellectual disabilities, there was a desire for “other options”. One day, he thought to himself, “Well, if the other options don’t already exist, I’ll create them!” Thus, Other Options was born.

A company designed to provide rehabilitative services to individuals with mental disabilities who were in the process of being discharged from criminal justice incarceration, Other Options almost didn’t find its first client. Only days before Jess’ loan ran out on the startup funding for Other Options, a friend in need asked for monetary assistance. Jess obliged, and helped his friend out of his own pocket, figuring that the business was doomed to never get off the ground anyway. The very next day, in an entirely unrelated event, he landed his first client, and the business was saved. It was a miracle he never expected and never forgot.

But that’s just the kind of man Jess Grimm was: Kind, generous, and thoughtful.

In my personal life, he has meant more to me than anyone can ever imagine. He and Grandma Joyce cared for me as an infant when my mother had to work weekends at York Hospital. He was there for me every step of the way as I grew up.

When I struggled in life, he gave me sound advice. Invariably, the times I chose to take his advice turned out for the best. The other times didn’t turn out so well. He helped me with such crucial decisions as that of how to go about progressing through university, and high school before that. He even had a “call me anytime you need assistance” policy that I took thorough advantage of.

He provided the tools for me to ensure my success at every turn, and he was the first person to discover and recommend the program in Buffalo for high-functioning autistic individuals in college. That program helped me learn crucial independent living skills.

Then there were the lives of his former employees at Other Options, who almost all refer to him as “the best boss” they ever had. If that doesn’t show the love of Jesus that was present in all of Jess’ actions, I don’t know what does.

Well, maybe the foundation he started for the Susquehanna United Methodist Church Conference with money from the sale of his business shows a bit of Jesus’ love as well. The Gainer-Grimm Memorial Fund serves to this day to provide support for disabled former ministers in our church conference, regardless of their circumstances.

Granddad was more than a normal man, or even a normal Christian: He was extraordinary. And while he will be sorely missed by those of us who knew him, he will be forever memorialized in the lives that he touched. That knowledge alone gives me the strength I need to carry on. He will live on forever in Heaven and in all our hearts.

I love you, Granddad Jess. We all love you; and we will carry on your legacy through our words and deeds of kindness, generosity, and thoughtfulness.

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