York Town Square

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New book gives insight into community leader Voni B. Grimes

Voni Grimes greets a small crowd standing in a pouring rain at a diversity and peace rally in April 2006 in York. During the event, York Mayor John Brenner praised Grimes for his efforts to unite the community. Background posts: Two ‘connectors’ would make York County’s list of most influential, A short test of your York black history knowledge and 10 tips to write a book-length project.

This photo did not make it into Voni B. Grimes just-published memoirs, but it typifies the man, who perhaps knows more York countians than any other person.

There’s the Bamberg, S.C., born/World War II vet/retired Penn State administrator standing in the rain on a Saturday morning. Only a few turned out for this diversity rally.

A few here and a few there and pretty soon you change hearts. That’s how Voni Grimes would see it.
So via his memoirs “Bridging Troubled Waters,” this man, who knows so many people, can himself be known… .

Here’s the press release telling about his work and raising questions that will no doubt pique your interest:

Why does Voni B. Grimes drive a Cadillac?
(The York community denied Grimes, a black man, a home, but they couldn’t stop him from buying the best car on the market.)
How did he learn to play his trademark harmonica?
(He started when he was 6 years old and picked it up again at 60 when it was helpful to play it for Masonic functions.)
And why did he move into a suite at the Yorktowne Hotel at the age of 75?
(When growing up in York, members of the black community weren’t welcome there. That prompted a young and determined Voni Grimes to vow he would live there someday.)
These questions about longtime York County achiever Voni Grimes are addressed on the pages of his newly released autobiography, “Bridging Troubled Waters.”
The book tells about Grimes’ childhood in Bamberg, S.C., and York, his military experiences during World War II and his re-entry into the York County community as part of what would become “The Greatest Generation.” It follows his career with Cole Steel and Penn State York, ending with his involvement in a myriad of community organizations.
“Bridging Troubled Waters” is available at the York County Heritage Trust or by calling Grimes at 751-2736. It can also be obtained via the York County Library System.