On Sunday, November 15th, 2020, Dr. Eric C. Grimm, loving husband, father, and world-renowned scientist, passed away suddenly at the age of 69. Eric was born on August 20th, 1951 in Cincinnati, OH. He grew up in Rapid City, SD, exploring the geology and plant life of the Black Hills. He was fascinated with science, and was an insatiable reader. He became an Eagle Scout and loved earning merit badges. Eric received his Ph. D. in Ecology from the University of Minnesota in 1981. On June 21st, 1980, he married Jane Anne Allard. They had one daughter, Maria.
In 1988, he moved to Springfield, IL and began his career at the Illinois State Museum as the Curator of Botany, rising to become the Director of Sciences in 2013. He helped lead the Landscape History Program, which contributed to the understanding of long-term changes in climate, landforms, ecosystems, and human-environment interactions and was the basis for the Museum’s natural history hall.
Eric was committed to sharing scientific research with the public. He was a brilliant lecturer and excelled at explaining complex topics in a friendly and understandable way; his lectures on climate change always drew a crowd. He was internationally known and respected for his studies of fossil pollen (palynology) and research documenting long-term changes in vegetation and climate. He developed the North American Pollen Database, which was used to refine climate models to predict future climate change and to understand how species adapt to changing climates.
After his retirement from the Museum, he continued his robust research agenda and development of the Neotoma Paleoecology Database. He was deeply respected by his colleagues and beloved for his generosity in mentoring young scientists. Among his many honors, he was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2002, received the Outstanding Service Award from the International Paleolimnology Association in 2012, and awarded the 2015 Distinguished Career Award by the American Quaternary Association.
He spent the past five years working from his home office in Jefferson, SD where he enjoyed tending to his vegetable garden, taking walks with Jane at the Adams Homestead and State Nature Preserve, and assisting with the care of his mother-in-law Pauline Allard. Eric loved spending time outdoors hiking, fishing, and skiing. His friends and family will fondly recall casual walks becoming guided nature tours, with Eric stopping to inspect leaf shapes and cheerily relating the scientific name of every tree and shrub.
Eric is preceded in death by his father, Carl Albert Grimm, and his mother Jeanne (Blase) Grimm. He is survived by his wife, Jane Anne Allard of Jefferson, SD, his daughter Maria Grimm (Alexander Post) of San Francisco, CA, two brothers, David Grimm (Randi) of Salt Lake City, UT and Jeffrey Grimm (Christine Webb) of Albany, OR, many nieces and nephews, and the worldwide paleoecology scientific community.
A memorial service will take place after the pandemic has passed and it is safe to gather again. In the meantime, raise a glass of IPA.
Memorial donations can be made to the American Quaternary Association (AmQua) Memorial Fund for Dr. Eric C. Grimm (www.amqua.org).
Published by KELOLAND on Nov. 15, 2020.