Biographies

Brother John J. Grimley, MM

Born: January 14, 1998
Oath: September 12, 1932
Died: October 14, 1988

Brother Kevin Grimley died at St. Teresa’s Residence on October 14, 1988, after a long illness. He was ninety years old and a Maryknoll Brother for 56 years.

John James Grimley was born on January 14, 1898 in Blackwatertown, County Armagh, Ireland, son of Arthur and Catherine (Murphy) Grimley. He had 2 brothers and 4 sisters. His formal education consisted of 5 years of grammar schooling in Blackwatertown. At an early age he came to the U.S. and settled in New York City. As a young man he was a candidate for the Franciscan Brothers in Paterson, N.J. but did not find the life to his liking.Before coming to Maryknoll he was employed for two years by the Paulist Fathers at the Church of St. Paul, Apostle, in New York City, where he was respected for his fidelity and sound integrity. He became attracted to Maryknoll by reading a booklet entitled “American Brothers and Foreign Missions”.

At the age of 32 he arrived at Maryknoll on November 16, 1930. Under the advice of superiors he became a naturalized citizen in the White Plains courthouse. He pronounced his First Oath in 1932 and took the name of Brother Kevin. Permanent Oath was on September 29, 1938. He was assigned to the Center and served on the farm and general maintenance for almost 19 years. He was predominantly a farmer, a natural gentleman, soft-spoken and unassuming. He became a model of regularity and excellence in observance. His superiors consistently wrote that he had many social graces, enjoyed bantering and being bantered; was a good story teller and had a fine Irish sense of humor. He was a good influence on the other Brothers and seminarians, a hard worker, neat about his room and person and careful of tools and equipment.

When Glen Ellyn was opened Brother Kevin was assigned there to take care of the vegetable garden and general outdoor maintenance. On arrival there he was a bit mystified, the Rector said, by the flat countryside and the golf course. He missed the barnyard and animals of the New York farm but gradually fitted into the community and the work. He enjoyed his work, mostly gardening in summer and painting and maintenance in winter. Fortunately, he enjoyed good physical health most of his life.

In 1951 he made his first trip in 17 years back to visit his family in Ireland. During the remainder of his 23 years at Glen Ellyn he made four other trips to Ireland. As Senior Brother at GE he enjoyed a certain prestige. He was very contented in the community life. Around the age of 73 he began to develop a general malaise and tiredness. His superiors were concerned and transferred him to St. Teresa’s Residence in April, 1973. Three years later he was enrolled in the Special Society Unit, in January, 1976. During 12 years at St. Teresa’s he continued his steady, life-long pious religious life, regularly seen at odd hours in chapel, praying for the missions and missioners. His hobby was farming and he had a little greenhouse on the 3rd floor where he would plant seedlings for later transferal around the property.

Wake services were held at St. Teresa’s and the Center Chapel on October 16, conducted by Fr. Richard Callahan. Next day a concelebrated Mass was offered by Fr. William Boteler.