All who knew Laura Virginia “Jenny” Grimes would agree that she had a certain spunk and sparkle about her that was impossible to miss. She was strong, independent, and deeply devoted to the people and callings that meant the world to her. Jenny was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, but she loved so many others, too, and considered them to be family as well. A lifelong member of the community she loved, she was genuine, warm, and approachable with a heart that was as big as they come. Life will never be the same without Jenny here, but she leaves behind a timeless legacy that her loved ones will proudly carry on in her footsteps.
It seems only fitting that Jenny’s journey began during the vibrant decade of the Roaring Twenties when ballroom dancing, jazz music, and motion pictures that came to life with both color and sound were part of the cultural backdrop of this time. Amidst this exciting time was a time of great excitement in the lives of Scott and Effie (Burgett) Hatten as they announced the birth of the baby girl they named Laura Virginia on July 9, 1922, in Kenova, Wayne County, West Virginia. Joined in her family by her sister, Eunice, life wasn’t easy for their family as they struggled to make ends meet while living in West Virginia prior to her parents’ divorce. Jenny came from West Virginia with no money, and by the age of 14 she was cleaning rooms at the Barbee Hotel. Jenny later went to work at a factory in Warsaw, Playtime Products making baby buggies. Although she was only 17 when she took that job, she had lied about her age in order to be hired.
New and exciting changes were in store for Jenny when she met the young man of her dreams. His name was Franklin J. Grimes, and they were married on April 19, 1942, at Morris Chapel United Methodist Church in Pierceton. Soon after, Jenny’s husband was drafted into WWII and was stationed in Ohio and then in Texas. Once in Texas, Jenny moved down to join him before he was transferred to Utah, which is where their oldest daughter, Carolyn, was born. Following her husband’s time in the military, the family took a military train to Chicago and moved back to Pierceton. They were later blessed to raise two additional children together, Randy and Amanda. Sadly, they lost one additional son, James Allen who was stillborn and another son, Phillip Ray who passed away tragically as a toddler while living in Utah. As a mother, Jenny was second to none, and by the time her children were just over 10 she had already instilled a strong work ethic in them by putting them to work. She also taught her children the importance of living a life that was rooted in honesty. Their children were all born about 10 years apart, which means that Jenny essentially raised three different families - no easy feat!
There was nothing Jenny treasured more than her family. Although money was tight, her children always had clothing and plenty of food. Usually, Jenny went to the grocery store every day to get what was needed for dinner not so much that she needed certain items, but she loved the social aspect of visiting with friends and neighbors. Jenny loved both cooking and baking, and she was willing to make any family member their favorite thing to eat. Sundays usually found her making fried chicken, gravy, and potatoes. For Halloween, Jenny was known for passing out her yummy homemade popcorn balls that all the kids loved. Early December she delivered divinity fudge, cookies, candies and oranges to the mail and trash service providers as well as to lots of neighbors friends. Even though she loved Christmas and how beautiful decorations looked, she didn’t like decorating for Christmas herself so she had her kids take care of it.
Jenny co-owned and operated Grimes Bait and Tackle. There, she became known as the “Tootsie Roll Lady” because she gave Tootsie Rolls to every child who came in. Their business was a social place in the community, and it was also common for people to gather at their swing on the front porch of her home which was only a few feet from the store. Heritage was very important to Jenny, and she took great care to decorate their family monuments with flowers each year at the cemetery. She was the corporate treasurer for DeMoney-Grimes and always had a helping hand to lend her son, Randy, as he operate the DeMoney-Grimes, A Life Story Funeral Home. Jenny also helped Randy deliver flowers, especially at holiday times when he owned Carriage House Flowers and Gifts in Columbia City and South Whitley.
After the fire destroyed the original funeral home in 1983, they were determined to preserve what they could. Jenny went through thousands of the funeral files that dated back to 1915, laying them out on her garage floor to dry and restore them. Because of her hard work, they were able to save many generations of biographical and funeral details. Jenny also helped paint 1000s of small wooden blocks that were part of the dental exterior trim of the new building and also did most of the painting and hung the wallpaper. All of the employees at the funeral home were like family, and she regularly thanked everyone for everything as she knew it was a tough business to be in. When the funeral home expanded in 1999, Jenny moved into the apartment that they added on. She loved living there as well as the sense of independence that it still gave her. Jenny did know when it was time for her to hand over her car keys over to her son, Randy, however, as she had difficulty seeing while driving to the courthouse to get death certificates at the board of health. Jenny always looked forward to the annual holiday memorial service at the funeral home and loved preparing for the hundreds of visitors.
Although she suffered with rheumatoid arthritis from the time she was 33, Jenny didn’t let it get her down despite being somewhat limited in mobility. She kept busy crocheting and making afghans for family and friends to help offset the limitations of the disease. Jenny was a member of the American Legion Auxiliary, Post 253, North Webster since 1947, and later in life she wasn’t able to attend church but she enjoyed watching religious programming like Bill Gaither Homecoming program every Sunday. Jenny also made sure that her children went to church. She was an avid reader of Harlequin Romance novels as well as books by Danielle Steele. When macular degeneration caused her to lose her eyesight, Jenny began listening to audio books on tape and relying on the blind radio in Fort Wayne for her news. During her younger years, she enjoyed mushroom hunting in Indiana and Michigan and fishing in School Section Lake in Michigan as well. Jenny and her husband drove for five hours every Friday evening to enjoy fishing and camping at the lake. She loved visiting family in West Virginia, going to garage sales with Carolyn, and riding along to the cemeteries as she knew where all the cemeteries in Whitley County were located. Jenny liked listening to radio for the blind to hear about the local obituaries in Northeast Indiana and also listening to her scanner to connect her to the outside world. She could always tell you what was going on the community even while living in her apartment at the funeral home as well as if someone at the funeral home got stopped for speeding!
Even when she grew older and more limited, people were still the primary focus of Jenny’s life. When her only niece, Frani, had her only child, Todd, it was only Todd’s Aunt Jenny and his grandmother who were allowed to look after him. Frani loved coming to the funeral home to see her Aunt Jenny the past 19 years.
With unending love and devotion to the ones she adored, Laura Virginia “Jenny” Grimes was a blessing to everyone she met. She was strong-willed when she was passionate about something, and she didn’t shy away from letting others know what she was thinking. Deeply loved by all who knew here, Jenny will be forever missed.
Laura Virginia “Jenny” Grimes, of Columbia City, Indiana passed away at 11:07 a.m., Tuesday, September 05, 2017, at her home at DeMoney-Grimes Funeral Home. Survivors include her children, Carolyn (Robert) Emmert, of Branson, Missouri, Randy Grimes, of Columbia City, and Amanda (Kent) DeKoninck, of Greenwood; four grandchildren, Scott (Jill) Cripe, of Ft. Collins, Colorado, Shelly (Dan) Magnus, of Chicago, Illinois, Hillary (Pat) Zeid, of Ft. Wayne and Morgan DeKoninck, of Greenwood; five great-grandchildren, Caleb and Caitlin Cripe, of Fort Collins, Colorado and Natalie, Elise and Audrey Magnus of Chicago, Illinois; and niece, Frani (Dick) Wells, of North Webster. Jenny was preceded in death by her parents; husband in 1986; two sons, James Allen and Phillip Ray Grimes; and sister, Eunice Haskins.
Visitation is 3-8 p.m. Friday, September 8, 2017, at DeMoney-Grimes, a Life Story Funeral Home, 600 Countryside Drive, Columbia City. Funeral services are 10 a.m. Saturday at the funeral home with Funeral Celebrant Sharon Brockhaus officiating. Committal services will be at North Webster Mock Addition Cemetery, followed by interment next to her husband and so many other loved ones and family members. Pallbearers include Dan Magnus, Scott Cripe, Caleb Cripe, Pat Zeid, Todd Wells, Dick Wells, Curt Johnson and Dan Judd and Honorary Pallbearers Garrett Bastin Rob Iwanicki and Brent Withington. Memorials may be given in Jenny’s memory to Talking Books and Braille Library, Indiana State Library, 140 North Senate Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46204 or Riley Hospital for Children, 30 South Meridian Street, Suite 200, Indianapolis, IN 46204-3509. Visit www.demoneygrimes.com to read her life story and to send her family condolences.