Gladys Marian Grimes joined her beloved husband David and other family members and the Savior she loved so much, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, at Northern Mahaska Specialty Care in Oskaloosa with her son Richard at her side. She was just five hours short of her 102nd birthday which she will celebrate now with the Lord and mother who gave her life.
Gladys was born Oct. 28, 1918 in Osceola, to John and Zoa Fleming, the fifth of seven children. Though she loved and lived in Albia most of her life, she always considered Osceola home and treasured the wonderful people and places and returned when she could to see friends and the farm homestead which her father had built. Her mother was widowed at a young age and raised the seven children during the Great Depression. The TV hit show, The Waltons had nothing on the closeness the family had and Gladys’ life was filled with wonderful stories of her childhood and her siblings who remained close. Gladys always said “we didn’t have much but we were rich because we had and loved each other.” Her close relationship with her siblings continued always though five and her mother ultimately moved west during the late thirties and forties. Gladys graduated from Osceola High School in 1937 and later worked and became a supervisor in a munitions plant during WWII. She married Everette Agans during the war years and to this marriage a daughter Carolyn was born in 1945. Sadly for Gladys, the marriage ended but in 1950 she met the love of her life, David Grimes of Albia, and they were married on April 9, 1951 and were married for 68 years until David’s death in 2019 at the age of 101. They were always inseparable and a wonderful team, adoring each other.
1952 was a big year for them as David would run for and be elected Monroe County Auditor where he remained until his retirement 32 years later in 1985. It was also the year their son Richard was born. Gladys and David, Carolyn and Richard would live in Albia and ultimately move to their Victorian home on Benton Avenue where Gladys and David would raise the two children and remain the rest of their life. They completely remodeled the home which had once been the Highway Hotel with Gladys and David repainting the black woodwork and steaming old wallpaper off in the heat of July. It was horrible work but they worked and laughed side by side as they did all their life. In their years of marriage, they planted big gardens and Gladys canned and froze produce much of which they gave away. She was a magnificent cook and won several awards for her baking and was especially famous for her apple dumplings which won Best of Show at the County Fair when Richard secretly entered them for her without her knowing. In fact, she later worked when the children were past junior high as an Albia cafeteria cook. Her cinnamon rolls were big hits, but the best part of her baking and cooking prowess were the fresh cookies she had for the kids every week at home and her scrumptious pies.
She loved flowers and both of them planted and tended the outside of the home and it was two years running, named Yard of the Week. But speaking of outside, Gladys and David were fixtures on their big front porch where people would stop and wave at them and where many “parties” for the grandkids, Matt, Phi, and Ted, were held. Speaking of fun, Gladys and David always were attending events for the children and supporting them. But the home was filled with the playing of fun games including the favorite WAHOO, a marble and board game that became a family tradition and to which Gladys would still play with Richard after her 101st birthday. Yahtzee was another favorite. Both Carolyn and Richard became teachers and Gladys in particular instilled in both children the love of reading. New books were always on the Christmas and birthday lists. And speaking of Christmas, perhaps no one loved Christmas more than Gladys. She decorated the home for every holiday but Christmas saw the big fresh cut and later artificial trees that Gladys and David continued to decorate into their 90’s and adorned the inside and outside with festive decor. One of the highlights of every year was decorating Easter eggs with the grandkids and celebrating Christmas at home for with Gladys and David, there was no place like home for the holidays.
Gladys was adept at making crafts and was a wonderful seamstress and made many afghans and other items.
Gladys was known for her hearty laugh and sense of humor. The house would be filled with laughter as well as song. She loved her gospel music and Big Band as well and could often be heard singing hymns while she worked in the house. She loved all animals and fed squirrels, bunnies and wild birds would come up to her as she would feed them. She was an avid Iowa and St. Louis Cardinals fan and she and David loved their outings to Ottumwa each week to shop and look around. Even late in life they would trek to Ottumwa and worry their family because they would be gone so long, but always having fun together.
She was a person of great faith and prayer and loved church and watching her Christian programs on TV and listening on the radio. Faith was at the core of who she was and her devotion to the Lord and to her family. She was a long time member of Trinity United Methodist Church in Albia. She was always a big supporter of her son’s ministry and loved helping with Operation Christmas Child, the Shoebox Project.
She was a person of courage and a commitment to do the right thing no matter the cost. She was loving and even in her seven plus months in the nursing home, suffering from COVID related social isolation, stories abound of how much she meant to the staff and how much her love was shown to so many staff there. They wept at her passing and regaled all she meant to them. Gladys was the most wonderful mom and grandmother and wife. She was as so many said there and for all who knew her, an amazing woman, one of a kind, and a person who was, indeed, a blessing. She was in every respect a Proverbs 31 woman. She was a treasure to her family and friends, from start to her finish, a wonderful person.
Gladys is survived by her son Pastor Richard Grimes who will be doing a eulogy; grandsons, Matthew Sullivan and his wife Stephanie and great-grandchildren Sam and Zoe of Naperville, Ill.; Philip Sullivan and Jodi and great-granddaughter Cora of Little Chute, Wisc.; and Ted Sullivan and Kristi and great-grandchildren Ethan, Alex, Grace, and Lucas of Manhattan, Mont. She is survived also by sisters-in-law Alice June Fleming of Nuevo, Calif., and Verle Grimes of Albia. She is survived by several nieces and nephews
She was preceded in death by her mom and dad; her six siblings, Arlie, George, Everett, Wayne, and Donald Fleming and sister Alice Fleming Gross and their spouses; her husband David, and daughter Carolyn Sullivan; brothers-in-law and spouses, James, John, Paul and Emmett Grimes; and her daughter-in-law, Diane Grimes.
Visitation was held from 11 a.m. until service time on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020, at the Trinity United Methodist Church in Albia, with Gladys’ family present to greet family and friends. According to the rules put in place by the Iowa Department of Public Health, proper social distancing and reasonable personal protective equipment is advised for attending a religious public event.
Funeral services were held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020, at the Trinity United Methodist Church in Albia, with Pastor Roger Henry officiating. Burial will follow services in Oak View Cemetery in Albia.
Memorials may be made to Trinity United Methodist Church and Operation Christmas Child
Condolences to the family may be left online at www.tharpfh.com.