Major General James Alexander Grimsley, Jr. U.S. Army (Retired)
United States Army, 1942-1975
President of The Citadel, 1980-1989
General Grimsley was born in Florence, SC, on November 14, 1921, to James A. Grimsley, Sr., and Anne Darby Grimsley. He graduated in 1942 from The Citadel and was commissioned as a second lieutenant of Infantry in the United States Army.
His Army career spanned thirty-three years and included combat service in World War II, in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater as a rifle company commander in the 77th Infantry Division, and in Vietnam (two tours) with the U.S. Military Advisory Group and the 1st Infantry Division as a brigade commander. With assignments spread equally among troop duty and senior level staff positions, including other overseas tours in Germany, France, and the Philippines, 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 thirty-five major decorations, including the Distinguished Service Medal; two Silver Star medals for gallantry in action; four Bronze Star medals for valor; four Legion of Merit awards; three Purple Heart medals for wounds received in action; and the Combat Infantry Badge (two awards).
During General Grimsley's presidency at The Citadel (1980-1989), the traditional standards of leadership and discipline of the Corps of Cadets were reestablished. Academic programs and faculty quality were strengthened through a series of major initiatives, bringing national recognition and unprecedented enrollment applications. These included the development of a core curriculum; establishment of an honors program; formation of The Citadel Writing Center and The Citadel Inn of Court; establishment and filling of six academic department chairs with distinguished professors; creation of a state-of-the-art computer center; and developing formalized criteria for the graduate faculty. In 1985, The Citadel was selected among the top ten regional institutions in the first US News and World Report evaluation, a distinction which continues to date. In addition, major physical plant improvements were completed, with others initiated for accomplishment throughout the 1990s and into 2000.
Following his retirement from The Citadel, General Grimsley continued active participation in both community and statewide activities. He served as president and campaign chairman of the Trident United Way, the Coastal Carolina Council/Boy Scouts, the Charleston Rotary Club, and the South Carolina Historical Society. He served as board chairman of the Palmetto Project, Youth Service Charleston, Florence Crittenton Home, and the American Cancer Society, respectively. His other board memberships included the Trident Chamber of Commerce and Development, the Charleston Museum, Youth Service America, the Salvation Army, Charleston Day School, and as vestryman and Senior Warden at St. Michael's Episcopal Church. He served on the State Board for Technical Education Foundation, the Charleston Education Network for Public Education, and as a trustee of St. Michael's Parish. During May-December 2000, General Grimsley chaired a committee which brought to fruition the Lowcountry Center for Graduate Studies, headed by the Presidents of the Medical University of South Carolina, the College of Charleston, and The Citadel.
General Grimsley was the recipient of a number of awards after his retirement from the U.S. Army. These include the State Chamber of Commerce Sergeant Jasper Freedom Award, the Community Foundation Malcolm D. Haven Award, the Trident Chamber of Commerce Leadership Ward, the Boy Scouts Silver Beaver Award, the American Legion Distinguished Public Service Award, the National Department Sons of the American Revolution Good Citizenship Medal, the Societe Francaise de Bienfaisance Medal of Honor, the Order of the Palmetto, the South Carolina Historical Society Mary Elizabeth Prior Leadership Award, and three honorary degrees (from The Citadel, Francis Marion University, and Charleston Southern University).
General Grimsley was preceded in death by his wife, the former Jessie Lawson of Florence, SC. He is survived by three children, James A. Grimsley III (and Josette) of Beaufort, SC, Anne Lawson Grimsley Bander of Raleigh, NC, and Maj. Gen. William F. Grimsley (and Jan) of Beaufort, SC. He is also survived by seven grandchildren, Dr. Anne Cook (and Dr. Wesley Cook), Margaret Grimsley Antelme (and Charles), David Grimsley (and Agatha), Elizabeth Bander Hill (and Joseph), Ari Lawson Bander, Benjamin Grimsley (and Betsy), and Lucas Grimsley, and six great grandchildren, Reed Cook, Otis and Juniper Grimsley, Leopold Xan and Valentine Antelme, and William James Grimsley.
The family wishes to express its deep appreciation for the excellent and loving care of the Bishop Gadsden staff, and to The Citadel community. They have been like family throughout.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to The Bishop Gadsden Retirement Community/Guerry Endowment; St. Michael's Episcopal Church Endowment; The Citadel Brigadier Foundation; or The Citadel Foundation/James A. and Jessie L. Grimsley Scholarship Fund.