Fred B. Grinnell
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Fred B. Grinnell Jr., 83, died Saturday, April 30, from a fall at his home.
He was born in Brooklyn, NY on August 5, 1938, the son of Fred B. and Frances M. (Conz) Grinnell but lived most of his childhood years at "The Round House" on 32 Conz Street in Northampton where his mother, Frances grew up. Fred graduated from Northampton High School in 1956, and American International College in 1960, earning a B.A, in Business. He was an accomplished athlete in both high school and college, lettering in football, baseball and swimming.
After college he worked as an underwriter for the Aetna Insurance Company in Springfield until he joined the Bailey-Doane Insurance Agency in Northampton in 1964. Fred's career took flight when he became a partner in the agency in 1966. He acquired several more agencies before merging with the Woodward Agency to form Woodward and Grinnell Insurance in 1972. Woodward and Grinnell would grow to become Northampton's largest insurance and real estate agency. Along the way, Fred became active in the community and the local political scene. He ran for mayor of Northampton and for County Commissioner. Although unsuccessful, he credited the growth of his business to those experiences. Those who knew or met him were drawn to his charismatic presence, perennial optimism and competence. He held leadership positions in The Chamber of Commerce, The United Way, The Cooley Dickinson Hospital, and The YMCA.
Health and fitness were a priority in Fred's life. In the early 70's, he was often seen jogging around Child's park in his Converse sneakers. When the running boom exploded, Fred became a competitive runner, winning his age group in area races all over Western MA. He also became an accomplished marathoner with strong finishes in Boston, New York and the Marine Marathon in Washington DC.
Much to the chagrin of his family, Fred was a perpetual risk-taker. Dozens of family stories tell of his escapades piloting his own airplane, speeding in his sports car, his zealousness with a chainsaw, and biking full speed with his prosthetic leg tied to the pedal. He survived a near-fatal accident in 1990 when he was hit by a car while running. The accident resulted in the loss of his right leg, motivating him to become an avid biker. Needless to say, the challenges of biking with a prosthetic leg led to several more accidents that he managed to survive. If it's true that cats have nine lives, then it must be true that Fred was blessed with even more.
Fred married Marilyn (Lynn) Dorn in September of 1960 and together they had three children, Debbie, Bill and Martha. After Lynn's death in 1977, Fred's commitment to single fatherhood created a special and lasting bond between him and his children that only grew stronger over the years.
In retirement Fred met and married Sarah Rossi and the two enjoyed many activities together including taking care of their beautiful home and gardens, birdwatching, date night on Thursdays, games of gin just about every night, and the constant flow of family in and out of their home. One of the great joys of their life together was their Yorkshire Terrier, Archie, a constant source of entertainment and love.
Fred's greatest enjoyment came from being surrounded by his family and hearing the latest updates in his children and grandchildren's lives. He especially loved the post-holiday meal pitch games played around the dinner table, regularly making ambitious bids on modest hands. He always looked forward to playing his weekly 18 holes of golf with some of his best friends, usually followed up with a couple of beers and a recap of the game at the clubhouse.
He is survived by his wife, Sarah (Rossi) Grinnell; daughter Debbie Woodbury and her husband Dick of Yarmouth, Maine; son Bill and his wife Dana of Florence, MA; daughter Martha and her spouse Lisa of Williamsburg, MA . He leaves five grandchildren; Sam, Ben and Matthew Woodbury; Colin and Sarah Grinnell; and his brother Bruce Grinnell and wife Judy of Williamstown, MA. He also leaves his beloved dog Archie.
A celebration of his life will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 220 Main Street, Northampton on Thursday, May 12 at 11:00 am. A reception will follow at The Garden House in Look Park. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Frank Newhall Look Memorial Park, 300 N Main St, Florence, MA 01062. Go to Czelusniakfuneralhome.com for online condolences.