Royden A. “Roy” Grimm built a proud legacy in journalism, not only as a fearless and fair-minded newspaperman, but as a compassionate and caring leader.
Grimm who spent 34 years with the Oakland Tribune, mostly in a leadership capacity, died Saturday on his 55th wedding anniversary from frontal lobe dementia at age 83.
“He loved being a newspaperman,” wife Joanne Grimm said Tuesday. “Even during his illness, he loved to read the Tribune. He left his (three) children with the knowledge that the truth was important, and that people had a right to know the truth.”
Grimm joined the Tribune in 1956 as a reporter. He rose to city editor in the 1960s and then managing editor in the 1970s, a position he devoted more than a dozen years to before his retirement in 1989.
“Roy Grimm is an institution within an institution,” said Robert C. Maynard, then-Tribune president and editor, on the day Grimm retired.
Twenty years later, Grimm is remembered fondly by Tribune staffers from that era.
“I always admired his dedication,” said Mort Cathro, former Tribune travel editor. “That’s a cliché, but he really was a dedicated news guy. He was serious about his job, but he was able to laugh at us in our struggle to cover the news.
“Everyone liked him. We had other city editors who tried to intimidate you; you never saw that in Roy. We worked with him in harmony. And I remember his omnipresent pipe.”
“He chewed on that pipe with a big smile,” said John Simmonds, one-time Tribune assistant sports editor. “He was fair, very professional. When I was a copy boy in 1960, I didn’t live far from Roy. He’d pick me up at 8 a.m. and take me to work so I wouldn’t have to catch a bus.”
Former Tribune Sports Editor Bob Valli and Grimm were Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity brothers at UC Berkeley.
“He was one of the leaders — sharp, but quiet,” Valli said of those college days. “At The Tribune, he was a workhorse, very reserved, a good man. I never saw him argue with anybody; he wasn’t the screaming type.”
Leroy Aarons, the Tribune’s senior vice president for news at the time, praised Grimm’s professionalism and persona the day he left the newspaper business for good Dec. 31, 1989.
“He was the newsroom’s conscience and its guru,” Aarons said. “The standards he set for quality, humaneness and healthy skepticism will stand as a beacon for years to come.”
Though Grimm exuded a positive bearing, he took a ribbing about his name: Grimm.
“Nobody had a more inappropriate name than Roy,” said former Tribune columnist Martin Snapp. “Far from being grim, he was one of the kindest people I ever met. He was also a great editor who never let us settle for anything less than our very best.”
Grimm was born Aug. 5, 1925, in Roseburg, Ore. He attended Santa Rosa High School before serving in the U.S. Maritime Service during World War II. He then attended Santa Rosa Junior College, graduated from UC Berkeley in 1950, and served in the Army from 1951-53 during the Korean War.
Grimm was city editor at The (Hayward) Daily Review before joining the Tribune Feb. 2, 1956. He also taught news writing at Laney College in the early 1970s.
“My great blessing,” said Joanne Grimm, formerly the principal at Oakland High School, “was to be married 55 years to an intelligent, caring, funny man.”
Besides his wife, Grimm is survived by three children: Margaret Rose (husband Roger), Scott Grimm and Joe Grimm (wife Sarah), grandchildren Laura and Amanda Rose, and Aiden and Lorraine Grimm, and longtime friend Ellen Murphy.
The family will hold a private burial Saturday at the Chapel of the Chimes in Hayward. A memorial service is planned for a later date. Donations may be made to the Association of Newspaper Editors, and their efforts to continue freedom of information, and Operation USA.