Lloyd Rodger Grimm
Lloyd Rodger Grimm, known affectionately as “Gup” to his children and grandchildren, passed away on June 15, 2017, on his land in Columbus, Indiana. Lloyd was born on November 14, 1936 to Howard S. Grimm, an attorney and farmer, and Mary Lois Murphy at their homestead in Auburn, Indiana. He spent his childhood raising animals, tending fields, and learning to drive Allis-Chalmers and John Deere tractors on his parents’ farm. At the age of 16, he used his savings to purchase his first car, a Model T Ford that was the treasured antique in which he took his driving test.
When he turned 17, he discovered the complete skeleton of a 10,000-year-old American Mastodon while digging in a swampy area of the farm. The Model T and the mastodon were the subjects of his most cherished and shared memories of childhood, exemplifying his keen interest in history, already evident at a young age. An abiding love of basketball emerged just as strongly at this time of his life. Lloyd was a first-string power forward on his high school and college teams, for which he earned the endearing nickname, “Large,” from his teammates. He graduated in 1960 from Hanover College with a degree in history. That same year, he married his college sweetheart, Beth Ellen Shannon, in the Hanover College Chapel. He went on to earn an M.A. in history from Indiana University in 1965.
Lloyd was a humble, quick-witted, and kind gentleman who appreciated a good laugh, as long as it was at no one’s expense. He was known for his dedication to his family, love of nature, and his decades-long work as a teacher. A 55-year resident of Columbus, he was an American and European history scholar who began his career in 1960 as an instructor of history, government, economics, and English in Waterloo, Indiana. In 1962, he joined the Social Studies Department at Columbus North High School, where he taught more than 3,000 students before his retirement in 1988. He was admired for his acute intelligence, inquisitive nature, and independent thinking, all of which manifested in the many ways he challenged students to be open to new ideas and global perspectives. A former student, recently quoted in Columbus’s newspaper, The Republic, described him this way: “Mr. Lloyd Grimm, the most intelligent, brilliant, mind-expanding teacher I ever had in my entire life.”
As a discerning scholar, no one impressed Lloyd more than Abraham Lincoln, and it seemed to the family that no one read more about Lincoln than Lloyd. He was known to quote passages made famous by the 16th President and to reflect on Lincoln’s words of wisdom throughout his life, especially in raising his children. It could easily have been said that Lloyd embodied Lincoln’s own assessment (as recalled by his contemporaries) of what it means to be an honorable man: “Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”
Lloyd received numerous fellowships to pursue his scholarship, including grants from the National Institute of the Humanities that supported his summer studies at colleges and universities across the country. He traveled with his family to those institutions in a 1961 Volkswagen bus that he had hand-painted primer red. Along the way, the family camped out at national parks, visiting nearly all of them over the years. An often-told story of Lloyd’s centered around getting temporarily lost at dusk in the Grand Canyon with his two sons and only one jar of peanut butter. His punch line was, “The real problem was that we didn’t have a spoon.”
A long-time advocate for social justice, Lloyd was active for many years in the Columbus Peace Fellowship. During the Vietnam War, he marched in Washington, D.C. in support of peace. He was firmly committed to cultural exchange as a bridge to understanding ideologies, and, in the mid-1970s, he and Beth hosted an American Field Service student, Frans Boch, from Denmark. Frans remains a dear family friend and was regularly referred to by Lloyd as his third son.
For all of his interest in the wider world, Lloyd felt most at home roaming in the woods surrounding his own house or on the deck with his adored cats. In 1974, he and Beth began work on their “treetop” home in Columbus, built into a hillside just south and west of town. In an article in The Republic from 1982, Beth is quoted as saying, “Our whole goal in this was simplicity and harmony.” Illustrating their own enduring and harmonic partnership, it was Beth who designed the home and Lloyd who oversaw its construction, hauling every piece of wood from town. They established the property, including a new lake set in 15 acres of forested land, as a wildlife sanctuary and wilderness habitat, but it was just as much a sanctuary for Lloyd himself, who walked the property nearly every day during the past four decades. To secure a legacy for the region, in 2016 he designated all of his lands, including 50 additional acres in Jackson Township, as Classified Forests.
Lloyd is survived by Beth Grimm, his beloved wife of 57 years; his brother, John C. Grimm (Florida); his sons, Timothy Scott Grimm (Columbus) and Christopher Luke Grimm (Chicago, IL); his grandsons, Connor Scott Grimm (Bloomington, IN) and Jackson Niall Grimm (Columbus); his daughter-in-law, Jan Scott Lucas Grimm (Columbus) and her son, Lucas John Kliejunas (Connecticut); daughter-in-law, Esther Grisham Grimm (Chicago); and his sister-in-law, Janeo Shannon (Columbus). He was preceded in death by his parents; three brothers (Howard S. Grimm Jr., Edgar A. Grimm, and James L. Grimm); and one sister (Helen G. Cameron).
A memorial service will be held on November 25 at 2 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbus, 7850 W. Goeller Blvd., Columbus, IN 47201.
Condolences may be sent to the family at 10931S 800W, Columbus, IN 47201.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the Nature Conservancy, 5885 Wulfman Road SE, Laconia, IN 47135, (812) 737-2087, and to the American Civil Liberties Union, 1031 E. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46202,(317) 635-4059.