Ross Grimes, an iconic figure in the Evergreen community for more than 60 years, died July 17, 2013 at the age of 86.
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Originally from Iowa, Ross served in the U.S. Navy and later earned a degree in business at the University of Colorado in Boulder. It was there that he met his wife-to-be, Nancy Crain, whose parents moved to Evergreen in 1948. He married Nancy Crain in 1950.
Initially, he worked for The Woodpeckers building quality homes. He also worked for Firestone Rubber Co. Ross and Nancy were owners of Evergreen Crafters from 1951-2004, the cornerstone for downtown Evergreen. Over the years they owned and operated a number of businesses, including The Hut, the Fun Shop and a children's shoe store on Main Street, as well as the gift shop in the historic El Rancho restaurant. In addition, he and Nancy owned and operated Golden Key Fashions and Village Casuals.
Ross was not only an entrepreneur; he was considered a true community servant.
He was one of the first presidents of the Evergreen Area Chamber of Commerce in the 1950s, helping to found the Canyon Courier.
Ross played an important role in re-routing Highway 74 between Evergreen and Kittredge and helped with layout out of the sewage system and utilities when those services were added.
He served as the chairman of the Evergreen Metropolitan Water and Sanitation District for 30 years and developed a plan to consolidate several local sanitation districts under Evergreen for operation, maintenance and management.
In the 1970s he helped to negotiate an agreement with the city and county of Denver to maintain the use of the water in Evergreen Lake for the residents of Evergreen. The district then formulated an agreement with the Evergreen Park and Recreation District to manage the recreation area (trails, fishing, ice skating, boating) under his leadership.
He was chairman of the El Rancho Water and Sanitation District for more than 30 years. And, like many men in the community in the early years, he was a volunteer with the Evergreen Fire Protection District. But more notably, he fought fires for 30 years, was elected as chairman of the board for a period and as fire chief from 1963-70, helping to lead the department to a top rating in fire suppression.
In 1959, Ross and Nancy purchased a historic building in Central City, where they operated the Famous Bonanza Gift Shop. When gaming was passed in Colorado in 1990, the Grimes family remodeled the building and established the Famous Bonanza Casino, then expanded in 1998 with the Easy Street Casino. Ross served as chairman of the Central City Business Improvement District from its inception in the late 1990s through the completion of the Central City Parkway in 2004.
For more than 25 years he worked on many committees and with CDOT to improve the 73/74 intersection in downtown Evergreen, a feat that was finally accomplished in 2002. Although essentially all of his community service was positive in nature, he did organize a protest over the installation of an unsightly pedestrian bridge linking trails around the lake to Main Street in 2004; it was in place only a few weeks before being removed.
Ross was honored on a number of occasions: In 1973 he was named Person of the Year by the Evergreen Area Chamber of Commerce and received an Outstanding Service Award from the same organization in 1974. In 1989 he received the Jeffco Hero Award for stopping a vehicle involved in a hit-and-run accident on Main Street that dragged the victim beneath the vehicle. The park below the dam was dedicated to Ross in 1992 for his service to the Evergreen Metro District and to the community.
Ross and Nancy enjoyed many winters in Mazatlan, Mexico, and leave many dear friends there. As a young man, Ross was a boxer. Later he became an accomplished skier. Together with his wife, he enjoyed playing tennis, sailing, traveling the far reaches of the globe, and touring Mexico for more than 25,000 miles.
Ross was preceded in death by his wife of 62 years, Nancy, who died in August 2012. He is survived by his children Ann Dodson (Ed) of Evergreen, Sue Hentschel (Brad) of Golden, and D. Reed Grimes (Kathy) of Evergreen; grandchildren Jesse Dodson, Leah Dodson Carrington and Jeff Hentschel; and great-grandchild Emelia Carrington.
A celebration of life will be held Aug. 19 at 4 p.m. at the Evergreen Lake House. The family would appreciate stories and fond memories of Ross for a collection. Please e-mail inclusions to email@example.com or P.O. Box 10, Evergreen, 80437.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Mt. Evans Home Health and Hospice, 3081 Bergen Peak Drive, Evergreen, CO 80439.
Published in Canyon Courier from July 24 to July 30, 2013