Lowcountry mourns loss of Former Citadel President - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Lowcountry mourns loss of Former Citadel President

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Members of the Lowcountry are mourning the loss of Former Citadel President Major General James Alexander Grimsley, Jr.

General Grimsley passed away at Bishop Gadsden Episcopal Retirement Community in Charleston.

General Grimsley and his wife, Jessie moved to Bishop Gadsden in 1999. Jessie predeceased him in 2010. Born on November 14, 1921, James Alexander Grimsley, Jr. grew up in Florence, South Carolina. He graduated from The Citadel, in 1942. His Army career spanned 33 years and included combat service in World War II and Vietnam.

With assignments spread equally among troop duty and senior level staff positions, he advanced through the grades to major general and completed his career as the Director of Security Assistance Plans and Policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. During his active duty career, he received 35 decorations, including two Silver Star medals for gallantry in action; four Bronze Star medals for valor; the Distinguished Service Medal; four Legion of Merit awards; and three Purple Heart medals.

In September 1975, Gen. Grimsley returned to the Citadel as Vice President for Administration and Finance and was named President in 1980. His tenure at The Citadel was marked by a significant increase in applications, physical improvements to the campus, and rising academic rankings. Upon retirement in 1989, he was named President Emeritus, which had previously only been given to two other generals.

"Truly one of the most respected men in Charleston, and in South Carolina, Gen. Grimsley was an exceptional human being. He was a hero, a leader, a visionary, and an inspiration to all who knew him," states Bill Trawick, Bishop Gadsden's President and CEO.

Lowcountry school teacher Laura Linder says she owes her educational career to General Grimsley. After being unable to make certain scores on the entrances exams for graduate school, Linder wrote a letter to Gen. Grimsley asking to be admitted.

"He wrote me a personal, hand-written letter back that said, 'I'm a bad test taker too. Welcome to the Citadel Graduate School,'" she said.

Linder said the extra chances to succeed are needed more in the educational system.

"When you give a child a second chance or even a third chance, those are the ones that come back and say if it wasn't for you, I would have stopped," she said.

Mayor Joe Riley also extended his sympathies to the family, saying he admired the work General Grimsley did for the Charleston community .

"Those who knew him and knew of him just had enormous respect, so it's a huge loss and his contributions to our community will benefit us for years to come," Riley said.

The funeral for General Grimsley will be held on Friday at 10 a.m. in the Summerall Chapel on the Citadel's campus.

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