Grimsley passes, friends recount memories of him

Published 4:35 pm Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Many friends and community members were shocked and saddened early Tuesday morning, July 30, to learn of the unexpected death of their good friend and neighbor, John U. Grimsley III.

Johnny was the proprietor of Grimsley Pharmacy for 47 years, taking it over from his father in 1970. His father owned it since 1951, and he took it over from Johnny’s grandfather who opened it in 1922. It has been the oldest family owned pharmacy in the state of Georgia. In May, 2017, Johnny sold it to Randy Logue, at which time he eased into retirement.

Through the years the pharmacy was the gathering place each morning where a group of Bainbridge’s “finest” met for what was loosely called a round table coffee club. There they discussed the issues of the day and put forth their suggestions for fixing all that was wrong as they enjoyed their morning coffee and camaraderie.

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Dr. Sidney Cochran was one of those who gathered there for many, many years. He expressed his great sorrow at Johnny’s passing, saying, “He was a wonderful man! He would give you the shirt off his back. He loved the people in Bainbridge and supported the community and his church.” Dr. Cochran then added some personal information about growing up with Johnny. They were one year apart in school where they played baseball and football together, went duck hunting and even double dated before they both married. “I’ve known him most of my life. He will be sorely missed.”

Retired dentist Dr. Jon McRae, while not a regular member of the breakfast group, said he would go occasionally. His relationship with Johnny was more personal. They were fellow church members. “Johnny and I were the closest of friends. He was the first person I met when I came to Bainbridge.” Dr. McRae was noticeably shocked and grieving as he told how he had just visited Johnny at the hospital on Monday afternoon, where he seemed like the old Johnny. “He was a friend to everybody,” he added, as he described how much he will miss him. “He was like my brother.”

Johnny was a staunch and supportive member of First Presbyterian Church, where he sang tenor, often as a soloist, in the choir for many years.

Randy Logue has expressed his thoughts. “Grimsley Pharmacy and the coffee club will never be the same. We lost a friend, mentor, a pharmacist, and one of the biggest bulldog fans there was. Mr. Johnny enjoyed being a pharmacist to the fullest. He loved people and being able to help them anyway he could.

Mr. Johnny and I had become very close over the past couple years. He was so excited to have some “young blood” here at the pharmacy to keep his family’s legacy going. Not only was he my friend; but he was like a father to me. I will miss all the advice that he gave me, not only pharmacy, but life in general. I have big shoes to fill to keep Grimsley Pharmacy up to his expectations. Our hearts go out to Mrs. Nancy and the family during this time.”

Charles Tyson is a 17+ year member of the breakfast club. He learned of Johnny’s passing when he went to the pharmacy early Tuesday morning to have his coffee. He found the door was locked and wondered about it. It seems Johnny never gave up the roundtable coffee hour even though he no longer owned the pharmacy. Perhaps it was in the sale agreement, but at any rate he has continued to be the first one there each morning. He would open the pharmacy and put the coffee pot on. Tyson said he became good friends with Johnny as they served on the hospital board together. “He became a dear friend of mine. He was one of the best Christian men in town,” said Tyson, who then added, “And he made an excellent cup of coffee. I am really going to miss him.”

Tyson explained that many of the men who came for the coffee hour had grown up together in Bainbridge and he enjoyed hearing them talk about their school days.

The Spring 2014 issue of Bainbridge Living featured an article titled, “The Bainbridge Braintrust” where Grimsley Pharmacy regulars tell the story of their daily morning coffee meet-ups.”

The “Bainbridge Braintrust” may never be the same, but the memories made there will last forever.

A full obituary will be posted on the Ivey Funeral Home website on Wednesday.