Former McDuffie County School Superintendent Ed Grisham was honored by both current and former school board officials and former administrators during a special dedication ceremony that officially named Thomson High School's new physical education facility after him last Sunday afternoon.
"Everything you have done for me today is certainly so meaningful," said Dr. Grisham to those who organized the dedication ceremony.
As he addressed a crowd of more than 100 people in the school theatre, Dr. Grisham, who served as school superintendent for 13 years, remarked that the new physical education facility "was like a dream come true for me. For my part in it, it was a labor of loveâ€¦truly a joy."
After 17 years of living in Thomson, Dr. Grisham and his wife, Linda, will be moving in the fall in order to care for their elderly parents.
"Thomson has been our home for many years and we'll miss it, but we'll always remember this town and the many friends we've made," said Dr. Grisham. "Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart " thank you," added Dr. Grisham, following many kind words spoken about him from both former and current school board officials and retired administrators.
A native of Ripley, Miss., Dr. Grisham explained that building and other projects he was associated with through the years as school superintendent weren't "I or me projects. They were our projects."
He pointed out that those projects could never have become a reality had it not been for the work and support of both former and current educators and administrators within the school system.
Dr. Grisham's remarks came after current McDuffie County School Superintendent Dr. Mark Petersen summarized Dr. Grisham's life in education and formally introduced him to those in attendance. Dr. Grisham was escorted onto the stage by his wife and current McDuffie County School Board Member, the Rev. Ella Mae Samuels.
Earlier, McDuffie County School Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services James A. Franklin, Sr., who was responsible for helping organize much of the dedication ceremony, read the dedicatory statement. Dr. Franklin also presented him with a replica of the dedication marker.
Sheilah Johnson, who formerly served as executive secretary to Dr. Grisham and now works in the payroll and accounts receivable department at the McDuffie County Board of Education, presented her former boss with a photograph of the physical education facility named after him.
Following special tributes about Dr. Grisham, everyone took a short walk to the new Ed Grisham Physical Education Facility, where the unveiling of the plaque took place. Participating in that part of the historical ceremony included Mr. and Mrs. Grisham and their daughter, Beth, as well as BOE Vice-Chairwoman Georgia Hobbs, BOE Member, the Rev. Dorothy Hart and Dr. Franklin.
Dr. Carroll Hughes, a Thomson dentist and former school board member, referred to Dr. Grisham as a man of God who had been a personal inspiration to him through their years of friendship.
One of his finest attributes in becoming a good school superintendent was his fine character as a man and as a Christian, said Dr. Hughes.
Dr. Grisham recalled that when he and his wife visited Thomson for the first time during an interview for the school superintendent job that they stayed up all night the night before in a motel room praying and crying together.
"We just didn't feel the conviction to come to Thomson at that time," said Dr. Grisham.
The next morning, they talked with Dr. Hughes about their decision and immediately he wanted to have prayer with them. Afterwards, the Lord worked his plan for the lives of Dr. Grisham and his wife and he later was hired to lead the local school system.
It turned out to be "a wonderful and rewarding experience," said Dr. Grisham.
"I'm so glad ya'll are dedicating this building to Ed," said Dr. Thomas Neal, another local dentist who formerly served as a school board chairman.
Dr. Neal said Dr. Grisham "was wonderful at juggling figures" and putting things in perspective.
"He just did a wonderful job," said Dr. Neal.
The two men also shared what Dr. Neal described as "many Jesus meetings" about their children, because they had daughters the same age. The two men have shared a close friendship.
Nettie Roberson, a retired principal with the McDuffie County School System, said she will most remember Dr. Grisham for having supported administrators such as herself and called him "a leader" for having allowed local administrators to lead their schools. "He supported me in every endeavor."
Ms. Roberson also called Dr. Grisham a visionary and selfless man.
Dr. David Ruehle, a Thomson veterinarian and former school board member, described Dr. Grisham as "a man who is what you see and what you see is what you get."
Three of the strongest attributes that Dr. Ruehle paid to Dr. Grisham included:
- He was a man who truly cared about all of the students and all of his employees in the school system;
- He was a fine business person, too. "He could squeeze a penny so tight that I heard Lincoln holler many times," said Dr. Ruehle.
- He also said that Dr. Grisham is one of the finest Christian men that he has ever known. Dr. Ruehle said Dr. Grisham "is a walking example" of what every Christian should want their lives to reflect.
Gwendolyn Rountree, former school system assistant superintendent for human resources said Dr. Grisham was a gentleman and "a true example of a lifetime learner."
She also said he was a problem solver, as well as gifted and talent singer.
Jerry Randolph, who currently serves as a school board member reiterated that Dr. Grisham is a man of God and that he laid a solid foundation for the local school system.