On Tuesday July 21, 2020 as the new day’s dawn broke, Col. (retired) William Kenneth "Bill" Grisham, Sr. awoke as he always did, giving thanks for another day. Though his body was tired and newly frail, his spirit was always full of grateful appreciation to be able to draw another breath every moment he graced this earth.
Dad lived on his own terms, even in his last few days. His recent wish was to “put on my shoes and get out of here (hospital) because I want to get on my lawn mower and use my own channel changer”. He made his last dignified gesture early in the morning of the 21st, signing off on a life very well-lived. God broke the mold after he (and his twin Bob) were born on July 13, 1929. His parents were the late D.S. and Reba Hughes Grisham. Being born during the depression shaped his formative years, resulting in a life of honesty, humility, and great respect for all people. He and mom raised their six children with these same values that have now been passed down to numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Being quite the student, dad graduated from LCHS at age 16, and went on to attend TPI (now Tennessee Tech) in Cookeville. He furthered his education at the University of Tennessee School of Dentistry in Memphis, graduating with a dental degree at the tender age of 22.
Upon graduation, he enlisted in the Air Force and lived in South Carolina and Germany with mom and his two oldest children. After a short stint as a private practice dentist in Lawrenceburg, he re-entered military life and joined the Army. Four more children followed, with orders sending him to Korea and our family to Ft. McClellan AL, Ft. Lewis WA, and Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio, TX. Dad had three years left before retirement and his last military tour was at Ft. Clayton, Panama Canal Zone where he was promoted to Colonel and named the Commander of the Dental Activities Group, overseeing dental care for the military families stationed there. We had a great life! In the summer of 1977, our family rejoined civilian life when mom and dad retired and bought a twenty-acre farm on the west side of Lawrenceburg, returning home to the town where they had both been raised.
Growing up in the Grisham household there was never a dull moment and dad expected a lot from his children. He expected us to be upstanding citizens, hard and honest workers, and taught us to take care of the less fortunate. As our family leader, he showed us the way by example and gave sincerely and freely from his heart.
Left with decades of fond and loving memories are his older sister Margaret Thistle (97) and older brother A.J. Grisham (93), sons Dr. William K. Grisham, Jr. (Anna), James Robert Grisham (Connie), Andrew Parkes Grisham (Christine), and daughters Margaret Grisham Ford, Janie Grisham Carpenter (Mark) and Rita Grisham Thompson (Cullie), 11 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren, along with numerous nieces and nephews who will miss him dearly. He was preceded in death by his wife Rita Parkes Grisham (49 years) and second wife Elizabeth Holland Edwards (15 years), and numerous brothers and sisters.
He was a life-long member of the Church of Christ and was a charter member of Pulaski Street Church of Christ many decades ago, where he remained a member until his death. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Pulaski Street Church of Christ youth group.
Dad, thanks for your guidance, love, and support. We will always follow your example and try to live up to the standards you set for us. We will be sure to make you proud for generations.
Well done, good and faithful servant, you lived an incredible 91 years. Please rest in peace and give mom a hug from all of us.
Arrangements are being handled by Neal Funeral Home, 231 N. Military Avenue, Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. Private graveside services will be Friday, July 24th at Mimosa Cemetery.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Col. William Kenneth "Bill" Grisham, Sr., please visit our floral store.