In my previous post about Sylvania, I mentioned Blade reporter John Grigsby briefly. He had a 53-year career at the paper, and what I couldn’t track down about him was whether he was still living. Sadly, I found out today that he died yesterday, Thursday, Jan. 13 at the age of 96. Here’s his obituary in The Blade.
John Robinson Block, current publisher of The Blade, put it this way: “If there was a Pulitzer Prize for an all-around great reporter, it would have went to John Grigsby,” said Mr. Block. “Most of his work was done in an era before the vanity byline, but he was one of the very best reporters The Blade ever had.”
In researching articles or just browsing, Grigsby’s name comes up frequently. Frequently throughout the post-war era, a byline for a story The Blade was not a given, but seeing Grigsby’s name was not an uncommon occurrence. While researching some of the stories he did, I came across the citation that his personal papers had been donated to the University of Toledo’s Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections. The description is here, and it’s a treasure trove of stories he did (headlines only) as well as a general overview of what he covered:
- Where does Ten Mile Creek end and the Ottawa River begin? (unfortunately, since the issue of March 4, 1956 is missing, we’re not going to find out today)
- Upton Avenue started out as a cow path (“For some years after the Civil War, Ed Upton had huge herds of cows that wore quite a trail going to and from pasture land in the area between Dorr and West Bancroft streets” Feb. 5, 1992, page 19.
- The 50th anniversary of The Blade’s Peach Section (launched on Feb. 3, 1936), Feb. 3, 1986, page 18. The Peach paper came from the days when the Blade and the News-Bee competed with late editions: The Blade’s were on peach-colored paper and the News-Bee were on pink-colored paper.
Grigsby himself said it best in this article about his retirement from The Blade (which he was asked to write) on July 7, 1989:
I’ve done just about everything in my 53-year career at The Blade.
The most sensational experiences have involved wading in waist-deep flood waters in Grand Rapids, Reno Beach, Oregon, Point Place and Bolles Harbor; driving through zero-visibility fog en route to the air tragedy at Toledo Express Airport, going through tornado-wrecked areas along the Ohio-Michigan line and also near Temperance and Erie, Mich.; traveling to Little Falls, N.Y. for a major train wreck; dodging flames shooting out of Maumee Chemical Co. after a massive explosion rocked the city, and numerous incidents involving disasters, murders, fires, riots and other crime activities. …
I was entranced by the odor of newsprint and ink and by the scurrying activity as everyone fought to meet deadlines. I was hooked. I knew then that I wanted to be a newspaper reporter.
Doing what you want to do for 50-plus years? You can’t ask for much more than that in a life. As I said previously, I will probably be referring to a number of his stories in the future, because if anybody chronicled the history of 20th century Toledo, it was John Grigsby.