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James L. Grinnell (1926-2010) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Larry Grinnell   
Tuesday, 19 April 2011 23:59

James Lawrence Grinnell, One of the Original Founders of the GFA Passes Away in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas

James Lawrence Grinnell of Hot Springs Village, AR died on June 15, 2010 at Good Samaritan in Hot Springs Village, AR. He was born on August 23, 1926 in Superior, WI to Herbert and Ethel (Mayers) Grinnell. Jim worked for a Superior radio station as a broadcast engineer and for a time as an instructor in radio in the US Air Force. After service he moved to Chicago, joining the ABC network. Jim did many dance band “remotes” at the big hotels in the days before radio became a giant record playing machine. Eventually he worked into TV to make use of a side skill as a projectionist. He became a quality control expert and of late years had been assigned to watch the computer that controls the Chicago operation for ABC-TV. Along the way he was responsible for the Technical “Integration” for most of the early sports the ABC pioneered and did some of the Technical operation at National political conventions. Jim served as a Director and then Treasurer of the Society of Broadcast Engineers for a number of years. Jim also did some free lance political writing for the Village Voice. Jim was in the Evening Lions Club for 17 years. Jim is survived by his wife of 56 years Ileta (Mayer) Grinnell. 1 Niece; Barbara Vargason of Wisconsin and his special family friend Sue Wilson. Jim and Ileta have lived in the Village since 1986. Jim is preceded in death by his parents and one sister Betty Lund. Arrangements are under the direction of CedarVale Funeral Home in Hot Springs Village, AR 501-922-6100.

We knew him as ‘Chicago Jim’ for many years, to differentiate him from another Jim – James Eltinge Grinnell, also a founder, who was then known as ‘California Jim’.

The obituary was sent via snail mail by Robert R. Grinnell GFA #120, also of Hot Springs Village, with a short letter:

“Jim had a stroke in Dec 1999 and has been in and out of the hospital since, but a resident of a nursing home since early 2000.  He could still speak. My wife and I moved here in 1995, but visited from 1987 to 1995.  Jim and Ileta took us to many sites around Arkansas, and we were invited to their home for Easter each year. Jim was instrumental in designing the sound system for our Woodlands auditorium, where we have plays and big bands.  He had the stroke while covering a school board meeting for the newspaper.”

We extend our thanks to Robert for sharing this look at Jim’s life with us.

What this obituary doesn't tell you is that Jim, working with Richard W. Grinnell of California, and Donald McMahon of Gansevoort, NY, helped pull the Grinnell genealogy together, making the task of assembling and editing the 1997 edition a much easier task for the editor, Larry Grinnell of Greenacres, FL. Records were laboriously transcribed into a computer genealogy program, and that data was used to generate the text for the book. Without this arduous task, the 1997 book might still be in the editing stage.
Soon after publication of the 2nd edition of the Grinnell genealogy in the summer of 1997, Jim suffered a devastating stroke, which required specialized nursing care for the rest of his life. He mustered all the communications skills he had remaining to help GFA director Chuck Ketchum retrieve and organize Jim's voluminous files, in order to carry on the research that the GFA is chartered to do. Chuck has been able to expand upon Jim, Dick, and Don's work, along with all the folks who submitted their family histories, and the original research performed by Wiley B. Grinnell (GFA #1) and Ed W. Grinnell (GFA #3) that resulted in the two original Grinnell genealogies published in the 1970s and 1980s.

Jim made tremendous contributions to the early success of the GFA, and provided the needed continuity to ensure the research work continued. As I stumbled my way through the second edition of the Grinnell genealogy, Jim was there to help steer me in the right direction, and served as a great mentor to the project. Larry Grinnell, Secretary, Webmaster, and author of the 1997 and upcoming editions of the Grinnell genealogy.

Last Updated on Sunday, 11 September 2011 11:32