Warren Martin Grymes, Jr.
January 5, 1949- September 2, 2017
Warren Martin Grymes Jr. passed away peacefully at home on September 2, 2017 after a long battle with kidney cancer. He was 68 years old. He is survived by his wife of 18 years, Cheryl, sons Warren Grymes III (Vanessa) and James Grymes (Paige), and daughters Leah Donelan McDermott (Josh), Jessica Donelan (Chad Graber), Stephanie Donelan, and Rachel Donelan, as well as five grandsons Joshua Grymes, Jackson Grymes, Hudson Grymes, Pierson Grymes, and James Graber, three granddaughters Jasmin Castaneda (Adrian), Crystal Rosales, and Jennifer Rosales, and one great-granddaughter, Penelope Castaneda. His beloved family includes his five siblings Steve Grymes (Mary Jane), Debbie Bolger (David Topus), Wade Grymes (Mary Waggoner), Dennis Grymes (Jeanne) and Leslie Kuhn (John), many nieces and nephews, and his mother-in-law, Helen Godwin. He was predeceased by his parents, Warren and Christine Grymes.
Warren was born in Quincy, Massachusetts and grew up in Baltimore, Maryland until he moved to Jacksonville at the age of 14. He graduated from Bishop Kenny High School in 1967 and Jacksonville University in 1972 with a degree in History. He served in the Naval Reserve from 1972 to 1977. He went on to have a varied and successful career, in the travel business with Delta Airlines and as a partner in Avondale and Akra Travel, as an entrepreneur launching Chef’s Market gourmet specialty stores, in local political campaigns, and finally and most importantly to him, as the CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Florida for 13 years. He referred to it as the “best position I’ve ever had.”
He took Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Florida from the brink of bankruptcy to a thriving organization – the chapter grew into a multi-million-dollar organization and one of the top 30 in the nation out of a network of more than 400. At the time of his retirement in June of 2017, he had more than quadrupled the number of children receiving meaningful, successful mentoring experiences through the agency. He was a Big Brother himself to three little brothers during his tenure.
He loved Jacksonville and was actively involved in the Jacksonville community. He was the president of the Arlington Rotary, a two-term president of the Jacksonville University Council, very active in the Jacksonville University Alumni Association, and served on the Gator Bowl host committee. He served on over 15 nonprofit boards throughout the years. He was a passionate and dedicated baseball coach for 25 years for both of his sons and his grandson and coached the American Legion Post 283 baseball team to a state championship in 1993.
Warren received Jacksonville University’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2013 and was a member of the Leadership Jacksonville class of 2007.
Most importantly, he was a loving, passionate, and funny husband, father, brother, son, and friend. He sent his mother flowers every year on his own birthday to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day. He often met with recent college grads and new Jacksonville residents to help them find connections in the community. He kept his friends and family laughing, and sometimes groaning, with his humor. He will be missed.
A celebration of Warren’s life will take place on Saturday, September 23rd at the Jessie Ball duPont Center, 40 East Adams Street, Jacksonville, Florida. The ceremony will take place at 3PM, and the family will welcome visitors before the ceremony, beginning at 2:30, and after the ceremony concludes until 4:30.