Dr. Eric C. Grimm
1951 - 2020
BORN
August 20, 1951
DIED
November 15, 2020

Dr. Eric C. Grimm

JEFFERSON | On Sunday, Nov. 15, 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 20, 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. In 1971 he organized a group that successfully thwarted an attempt to build a gondola from Sylvan Lake to the top of Black Elk (Harney) Peak.

Eric received his Ph. D. in Ecology from the University of Minnesota in 1981. On June 21, 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 was 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; 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).

Kober Funeral Home of Elk Point, SD, has been entrusted with the services. Condolences may be posted online to koberfuneralhome.com.


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Published by Rapid City Journal on Nov. 21, 2020.
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59 Entries
Jane Anne and Maria: I just learned of Eric's passing. It came as a shock as I had a wonderful conversation with Eric at our 50th class reunion this past year. It was always a pleasure to see Eric whenever our paths would cross, whether it was at West Hills in Rapid City when we both were visiting our parents, or at the numerous class reunions that we both attended. My sincerest sympathy goes out to you and your family. Eric was an example of a life well lived. To God be the glory! Lynn St. Pierre
Lynn A St Pierre
November 30, 2020
Eric and I met in Pillsbury Hall, when I was drafting pollen diagrams for Herb Wright at the LRC. Kind and generous with his time and diverse intellect, Eric tutored me through calculus. Which was no small challenge! Eric had the gift of transforming the complex into the understandable, in his unassuming and thoughtful style. That began our friendship, which lasted through the years and over the miles. I am heartbroken to learn that Eric is no longer in this beautiful world, that he so loved and which inspired his wonder, creativity, and dedication. The world has lost a brilliant light. I mourn his loss and send deepest sympathy to Jane and Maria, as well as his brothers David and Jeffrey.
Rebne Karchefsky
November 28, 2020
Eric made a great impact and contribution to our world. Although it's no real surprise given his brilliance, I was unaware of his amazing level of accomplishments. In high school, and at class reunions, he was simply Eric: open, cheerful, humble, and a positive presence, who was liked by everyone. I will always remember him that way. I share in the sorrow of his loss, and extend my warmest thoughts to his family.
Todd Van Alstyne
November 25, 2020
Jonathan Reyman
November 23, 2020
Thank you for your wit, your humor, your hospitality and your friendship over the years. I always admired your mind and your connection to the world but these testimonials are proof that you were, indeed, a citizen of the world. I will miss you.
Don Maison
Family
November 23, 2020
His fundamental contributions to the field of Palynology and the understanding of the Quaternary will transcend the ages. May his soul rest in peace
Carlos Jaramillo
Acquaintance
November 22, 2020
Dennis Dumyahn
November 22, 2020
Sorry for the WORLD´s Loss!! I didn´t know Dr. Grimm but he sounds like a terrific human being! Wish I had known him! Condolences to the family!
Gregory Palmer
November 21, 2020
Dear Eric, I was enjoying your company as we walked through Dublin at INQUA just last year – you wanted this photo of you in front of the building named after your friend Bill Watts. Your passing is a sudden and terribly sad shock. You gave us all so very much! And you left too soon – it is a great loss. But your memory and gifts remain and will continue to inspire for many years to come. I’m so grateful to have known you as a friend and colleague – thank you for all you have done. You will be missed!
Jennifer Marlon
Friend
November 21, 2020
Donald Maison
November 21, 2020
I am saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Eric Grimm. His development of TILIA and CONNISS software has had an immeasurable impact on the fields of micropaleontology and palynology which I have experienced firsthand. The value of these outstanding contributions to paleoecology and biostratigraphy cannot be overstated. His brilliance has shaped science communication through an elegant means of visual data presentation in deep time research which will embolden his legacy for decades to come.
Sandy McLachlan
Student
November 20, 2020
I am deeply sorry to hear about Erics passing. I met him for several databases projects,, and he was always very supportive for Latin American activities, and in the past months we have been in touch in regard to a new Neotoma project for LA fossil data. He will be certainly missed. I send my sympathies to family and friends.
Joaquin Arroyo-Cabrales
Coworker
November 20, 2020
Eric was just a very good friend and a great colleague.....for many, many years.
Jim I. Mead
Coworker
November 20, 2020
Dear Jane and the Grimm Family—
We are so sorry to hear of your loss. Our condolences and prayers are with you all during this difficult time. We greatly regret the lost opportunity of getting to know Eric better.
Steven & Joanne McPherson
Neighbor
November 20, 2020
The Editorial Board of Vegetation History and Archaeobotany extends sincere condolences to the family and friends of the late Professor Dr Eric Grimm, who served as an Associate Editor from 2006 until his untimely death in November 2020. He was a wonderful colleague and unifying force, who brought to the journal a wide-ranging knowledge of vegetation history and climate change. He will be particularly remembered for his collaborative approach, outstanding contributions towards effective data presentation, and a drive for data-sharing that was both exemplary and transformative. He will be deeply missed by those fortunate enough to have worked with him and known him as a friend.

On behalf of the editorial board,
Felix Bittmann
November 20, 2020
We are so sorry to hear of Eric’s passing. We hope your family finds comfort in memories you share with friends and family. (neighbors on Tin Load Ct)
Tom & Andrea Young
Acquaintance
November 20, 2020
Eric was just a very wonderful person. He spread a very positive atmosphere around him and his calm and deeply reflecting humour was a blessing when you met him. He will certainly rest in peace, especially after having witnessed the election more than two weeks ago.
We are many who will miss him, says Svante, your friend and colleague.
Svante Björck
Coworker
November 20, 2020
Like many others, I was first introduced to Eric via his classic research in ecology. And also like many others, I've benefited from his efforts in the scientific community. Mostly I remember him as always friendly, a warm person, an outward personality, and forward-looking by nature. I’ll miss him. My thoughts are with his family and those who worked closely with him.
Daniel Gavin
Acquaintance
November 20, 2020
My deepest sympathies to your family.
I worked with Eric while a graduate student and post doc in the mid 1990's. He was very helpful, generous with his assistance, clever with new ideas, and always pleasant. It was an honor and a blessing to work with him. He is missed. Please accept my sincere condolences.
Ann Dieffenbacher-Krall
Coworker
November 20, 2020
Eric was a colleague who worked with my advisor Feng Sheng Hu. He would often come to our lab to present his latest research, and worked closely with several of Feng Sheng's students. I remember visiting Eric at Springfield and talking to him about the Younger Dryas and vegetation change when I was just starting out as a paleoecologist. He was a great person, a strong mentor, and an exceptional scientist. His loss is keenly felt by the paleo community. My sincere condolences to his family and all who knew him.
Melissa Chipman
Acquaintance
November 20, 2020
I remember Eric as a colleague of my father (the late) Bill Watts. The last time I met him was at AMQUA 2008 at State College (PA). It was sad to hear of his passing. My sympathies to his friends and family
Niall Watts
Acquaintance
November 20, 2020
Very shocked by his sudden passing. I met Eric for the first time at the International Palynological Congress in Bonn in 2008, where I sat next to him at dinner and we had a very nice talk about palynology, Tilia and lots of other things. He was such a kind and enthusiastic person..he will be greatly missed. My sincere condolences to his family and friends.
Mirella Groot
Acquaintance
November 20, 2020
Angela Matthias
November 19, 2020
Eric, I wish you didn't have to go...you are so sadly missed. You brought a brilliant intellect and fostered tremendous service. Your vibrance, wit, enthusiasm, humor and generosity made our community brighter in every way. It was a cold and windswept day that we spent coring Fish Lake, Utah in 2014. No matter, Eric (in red), who's smile can be see beneath his goggles, loved every minute of it. In my mind's eye I see Eric now on a heavenly lake obtaining glorious cores to discover the great paleoecological secrets of the beyond. I am so grateful I knew you.
Lesleigh Anderson
Friend
November 19, 2020
I have only met Eric at conferences since nearly 20 years and have had long email discussions clarifying - of course, TILIA but also pollen terminology, south Indian name conventions and stock dams or ponds in the Great Plains of North America Vs south Indian "tanks". I treasure in memory a long bus ride in China where I learned a lot about Climate Change in the USA and how it was affecting farming and several other little details that only a person as meticulous as Eric would bring to such a discussion. Every instance has been of sharing freely his knowledge and his time. A great loss of a good person and a brilliant scientist. Sincere condolences to his family and friends.
Anupama K
Acquaintance
November 19, 2020
Profoundly heartborken and surrowed by this sad news. I remember Eric visiting Nebraska when I was a postdoc and we had a whole lab lunch full of great science, from the very tiny detail on taxonomy to big questions on environmental change. He transpired energy and enthusiasm while giving thoughtful and generous advices on databasing paleorecords. His legacy will always be remembered. My condolecens to his family and friends.
Xavier Benito
Acquaintance
November 19, 2020
Thank you so much for introducing TILIA to me already in the ‘90 in Springfield during a special workshop, Eric! I will never forget your friendly way of teaching and replying to all my silly questions! Last year we both remembered these days, when we last met in Irland after the INQUA congress in the house of a good friend! You left much too early!
Frank Schaebitz
Student
November 19, 2020
Eric, a week ago we were still exchanging by email, and less than a year ago we were having dinner on a bateau-mouche in Paris. You and Jack had come for the African Pollen Database revival conference organized by Anne-Marie last October. I can't believe you won't be there anymore. I'm heartbroken.You left your mark on the discipline, yes, of course, but we will also remember your deep kindness, your humor, your personality which touched all of us deeply, those who knew you well, as well as those who only met you once. I share the grief of your children and your wife, as well as the grief of your close friends that you leave behind. We will sincerely miss you, dear Eric.
Doris Barboni
Coworker
November 19, 2020
I am so, so saddened that Eric is no longer with us. He was a mentor to me as I transitioned from PhD student to postdoc to professor, and he was so generous with his time, his expertise, and his friendship. Over the 10 years we worked together, he taught me so much - the absolute importance of strong quality control, and documenting all the details, and being open with your work, and enjoying a beer with your friends at the end of a day of good work. I will miss his wisdom and guidance. I hope he’s now enjoying time somewhere in the middle of a lake, pulling up the mud and counting pollen!
Jessica Blois
Coworker
November 18, 2020
So very grief-stricken to learn of Eric's passing. He and his brothers are our family's oldest friends. We all grew up together in the Black Hills. I have fond memories of "Waiting for the Sun" with Eric; camping out up at Sylvan Lake and behind Elkhorn Mountain, where he carried my ungainly duffel bag because I was too wimpy to lift it; walking along and having him identify every leaf and shrub.
Just last week, he properly identified a tree that my neighbor mis-labeled as a redwood. He was extremely generous with his ideas and his time, and spending time with Eric was always an education.
We found this little pond high on Harney (Black Elk) Peak when we were still kids in high school. Revisiting it 40 years later, Eric took the opportunity to pull some core samples. Turned out the silt at the bottom was over 10,000 years old. The location of this pond is our shared secret.
It's heartbreaking to know he's gone, too soon. I'll never share a "wee dram" with him again, or chide him about using all of our data allowance at the cabin in Palmer Gulch, or hike cross country up behind Harney Peak to find abandoned mining machinery. So many memories.
Safe travels, old friend. I will miss you.
James Parker
Friend
November 18, 2020
So sorry to hear about this. Eric was a great scientist. We got to know each other in Venezuela at Vera Markgraf's PEP meeting, more than 20 years ago. May he rest in peace...we'll miss him.
Dan Muhs
November 18, 2020
I am so sorry for the loss of your loved one, Eric. May the God of peace and comfort strengthen the family during this most difficult time.
November 18, 2020
I echo all the kind and genuine sentiments already expressed here by those who were fortunate enough to know Eric much better than I. I am greatly saddened to learn of his passing. I had the privilege of meeting him in person only once or twice, but I, like so many others, have benefited immensely from his Tilia and Neotoma resources for palaeoecology. My sincerest condolences to Eric's family, friends and colleagues.
Katherine Holt
November 18, 2020
I was shocked and heartbroken to learn of Eric's death. He was at the core of the paleoecological community, and a great inspiration for young scientists by showing a generous and open attitude in the academic world. I have wonderful memories from attending his workshops, the many times he helped with my Tilia-problems, friendly chats at meetings and during his stay in Amsterdam, and taking a drink after a mid-conference fieldtrip. He will be greatly missed. My condolences to his family and friends.
Erik de Boer
Acquaintance
November 18, 2020
So sorry to hear of Eric's death. His friendly smile and kindness will certainly be missed by me and I'm sure many more. Your many and significant contributions to palynology and study of past environments will certainly live on. Rest in peace, Eric. Michael O'Connell (Galway, Ireland)
Michael O'Connell
Acquaintance
November 18, 2020
The sudden death of Eric Grimm has plunged the entire community of paleoecologists and his friends into deepest sadness. Eric was a Quaternary palynologist. This is a relatively recent science that only really developed in the second half of the 20th century. Eric was therefore part of one of the very first generations of students who were offered a territory, if not virgin, at least so little known that much remained to be discovered.
Eric provided very high quality palynological sequences throughout the United States, from Florida to the Great Lakes region, including the famous and exceptionally long series of Lake Tulane, which covers more than 50,000 years.

Beyond this expertise, Eric had a very clear awareness of the collective interest. This interest can be illustrated by two examples: first, his programming skills allowed him to propose tools such as the data entry and analysis softwares TILIA and CONNISS to which he associated a very precious tool allowing to easily draw pollen diagrams (TiliaGraph). With great generosity, Eric made these tools available to the scientific community. They are among the most used today by palynologists around the world. Next, Eric took a large part in the development of pollen databases by investing in the development of the Global Pollen Database which later evolved into a much larger paleoecological database, Neotoma. It was on this occasion that I met him in the 1990s as the representative of the African Pollen Database (APD). What was striking, beyond his knowledge in paleoecology, was his great kindness and the quality of his listening skills, qualities that allowed him to bring around the same table strong scientific personalities from various scientific cultures around the world. Eric was always smiling and enthusiastic. Through his kindness, generosity and willingness, he greatly contributed to give paleoecology the central place it deserves not only in paleoecology but more broadly in the study of Global Change. Our community has lost a warm and friendly colleague, it has also lost a faithful friend.
On behalf of the African Pollen DataBase and on my own behalf, I extend my condolences to his family and friends.

Anne-Marie Lézine
Friend
November 18, 2020
I still remain absolutely stunned and deeply saddened by Eric's departure. Eric was a giant in Quaternary paleoecology, effortlessly developing and promoting tools in the service of the field and to the benefit of us all. At meetings, workshops, and over email, he was generous with his time and his knowledge and set the bar extremely high for the rest of us as a shining example of what scientific integrity means. He traveled not just once, but twice on my behest to help hold workshops for the South American paleo community where he gave freely of his time and deep knowledge of the field. He will be deeply missed.
Claudio Latorre
Friend
November 18, 2020
Eric is an enthusiastic and helpful Tilia software developer. He has provided great convenience for the academic research of pollen colleagues. During my post-doctorate period, it generously provided me with a software license. During the 2017 ASQUA conference, our research team had the honor to participate in his Tilia training workshop, which benefited me a lot. I am very grateful for his selfless help to me.
Deke Xu
Acquaintance
November 18, 2020
I was greatly saddened to hear of Eric Grimm's passing; just a few weeks ago he helped sort out a problem I was having and was always hugely helpful. I only met him personally a couple of occasions at INQUA Congresses but had long known and admired his work . He was a key figure in palaeoecology across the world and he will be greatly missed.
Nicki Whitehouse
Acquaintance
November 17, 2020
As a scientist Eric was generous with his time, masterful with his knowledge, and infectious with his enthusiasm. I will remember him most from his help and guidance to all during the training event in Amsterdam (January 2020; shown in the photo), for the fact he brought a pot of his local honey in a bear pot which he gave to us and my children loved, and that he fell asleep in an arm chair in our house and my daughter said "he is just like grandad". He will be sadly missed. My deepest condolences to his family and friends. Rest in peace Eric.
William Gosling
Acquaintance
November 17, 2020
It is hard to describe the importance of Eric to my life. He has been an incredible collaborator, colleague and friend. He built relationships around this world by sharing his love and enthusiasm for Neotoma, and he sustained those relationships because he is genuine, enthusiastic, honest and open. People like Eric come into your life rarely. I am incredibly lucky to have been able to be a part of his life, and I hope I can reflect his passion in my own life and work, to honour his memory. My condolences to his family, and to his friends around the world.
Simon Goring
Friend
November 17, 2020
I'm very sorry to hear about Eric's loss. He has been a key figure in palaeoecology across the world, always kind and always helping selflessly. My family and I have donated a tree in his name within Cabin Wood, a Woodland Trust forest just next to Ballinderry River, Cookstown, Northern Ireland.
Maarten Blaauw
Acquaintance
November 17, 2020
I met Eric for the first time on a boat on a lake in Switzerland (the INQUA 2011 conference dinner), I was a lowly PhD student and yet he still had time and patience to listen to (and of course solve!) an insignificant problem I had in Tilia. More recently, I was lucky enough to spend some time with him and be trained by him at a workshop in Amsterdam. He truly was the kindest, nicest man who gave so much to everyone and to science.
Lynne Quick
Acquaintance
November 17, 2020
I'm really sorry to hear this news. I knew Eric by his professional reputation long before meeting him in person when he visited Bergen for a week in 2018. He was clearly passionate about science, from the small details of pollen nomenclature, to big questions about past climates and ecosystem change. But more importantly, even in his short stay in Bergen, he was so helpful, and generous with his time and ideas. It's not surprise that Eric was so successful in bringing so many palaeoecologists along with him in making our data more open and transparent.
His legacy will live on with Neotoma. What an amazing contribution.
Alistair Seddon
Acquaintance
November 17, 2020
I first met Eric when I was doing my PhD and since then he has always been to me an infinite source of inspiration, with his constant motivation to collaborate, his never ending cheerful spirits and his will to generously help everybody. I met him several times in academic events and a few outside of it, and he was equally goodhearted in both. You will be sorely missed Eric..."Sit tibi terra levis" Eric.
Graciela Gil-Romera
Coworker
November 17, 2020
Losing Eric is a massive loss for many of us...I met Eric when I was still a PhD student many years ago and he's always been an inspiration! I had the chance to talk to him many times on an academic event and few outside of it, but in both he was always equally cheerful, collaborative, maintaining the good spirits and, in a word, goodhearted.
"Sit tibi terra levis" Eric...
Graciela Gil-Romera
November 17, 2020
Dear Eric,
Thank you for creating such a user-friendly software which helped us to illustrate the complex pollen counting results in a clear way.
I still remember the days when you kindly offered Tilia and Neotoma workshop in China. It was in September, 2014. I asked you some questions about the age-depth model, your patience and kind help inspired me a lot. You also talked about the papaya tree and other plants in your garden, and stay curious about different types of vegetables during the dinner. No wonder you are a so well scientist!
Your smile and intelligence will be greatly missed by all who know you.
May you rest in peace.
Yiman Fang
Acquaintance
November 16, 2020
The rest is silence...
Pim De Klerk
Acquaintance
November 16, 2020
Eric, you are a great person, a great supervisor and a good friend. You are always ready to be helpful for others. I think many of palynologists in the world were benefited from your innovations and helps. We all love you!
Jane, hope you can restrain your grief and all Eric's friends are with you!

With deepest sympathy...

Xiaozhong Huang
Xiaozhong Huang
Friend
November 16, 2020
Dear Eric,
I am so sad to hear that you left us forever.
I always remember your lab, your comfortable garden, your museum...
We took photos before the museum.
Thank you so much for your help when I begun my early research.You are so many Chinese palynologists' good fiend.
Wish you happy in the heaven.
Please blessand protect Jane healthy.
Chunmei from NJU of China
Chunmei Ma
Friend
November 16, 2020
The first time I knew about Eric is by using Tilia, and the name became one of the most important names in my career. All paleoecologists will remember Eric’s excellent contribution.
Yong Ge
November 16, 2020
Eric, you provided so much leadership and innovation to our science - and generously enriched the careers and lives of so many. You have left us far too soon and will be sorely missed. Jane, please accept our deepest sympathy.
Glen and Joanne MacDonald
November 16, 2020
A generous colleague and friend. Here in Mexico, he will very miss. He always supported us with the Tilia software and with his friendship.
Socorro Lozano
Friend
November 16, 2020
Eric, thank you so much for the years of friendship, gentle advice, the inestimable contribution to palaeoecology and especially for easing our way into the world of data analysis and presentation; an unbelievable and sorrowful loss.
Kevin Edwards
Friend
November 16, 2020
Thanks for creating such a useful software to handle the pollen data. I was so excited when receiving your kindly reply of authorization of Tilia in June, 2018.That really inspired me to pass through a tough time then. It is a pity that we couldn't receive more updates from you. Thank you Eric. May your soul rest in peace.
Mingying Quan
Acquaintance
November 16, 2020
I only met Eric a few times but was struck by what a patient, kind man he was. He was generous with his time and was a fascinating person to talk to and learn from. I feel so lucky to have met him.
Nichola Strandberg
Acquaintance
November 16, 2020
To sweet Jane and Maria: we love you and ache for you. I love the The Doors, Jeeps, and paleontology because of Eric. He was brilliant and kind, and made a huge impression on me and those lucky enough to meet him.
Kate Milde
Friend
November 16, 2020
A huge loss of Quaternary science (particularly Palynology/pollen analysis)! A beautiful soul full of love and faith, away from us, leaving loneliness and sadness!
My endless gratitudes to his kind offer of free key to use his pround Tilia program! In such sad moments of loss, any words are useless. May his soul rest in peace.
The attached photo I took is from 2019 international Quaternary conference at Dublin.
Limi Mao
Acquaintance
November 16, 2020
A huge loss of Quaternary science (particularly Palynology/pollen analysis)! A beautiful soul full of love and faith, away from us, leaving loneliness and sadness!
My endless gratitudes to his kind offer of free key to use his pround Tilia program! In such sad moments of loss, any words are useless. May his soul rest in peace.
Limi Mao
Acquaintance
November 16, 2020