Harold Watts Grimes Jr.

Published 9:23 am Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Harold Watts Grimes Jr. of Pine Apple passed away peacefully at home, Monday,

February 26 at the age of 93.

He is survived by his loving wife of 71 years, Virginia Dell Lamkin Grimes; two sons: Harold

Email newsletter signup

Watts Grimes III (Lynn); William Allen Grimes (Karen) and daughter: Martha Grimes Lampkin

(James); Grandchildren: James Lee Branan (Nikki), Eric Kyle Grimes, Gregory Allen Grimes

(Ashley), Virginia Morgan Grimes Allen (John), Elizabeth Grimes, Amy Kathryn Grimes McGee (Brooks), Harold Brooks Lampkin (Margo) and Virginia Frances Lampkin Morgan (Jake) and great grandchildren: Emiley Rachel and Evan Powers Branan; Elizabeth Marie, Kaitlin Taylor, Kaylee Madison, Kendall Lee, and Khloe Piper Grimes; Kaitlyn and Grier Frances Allen; Kathryn Brooke and Harper Elizabeth McGee and Lucy Clare and Julia Frances Lampkin.

Harold or “Hal” as he was called by many friends and family, was born Aug. 1, 1930 at Speir Hospital in Greenville to the late Harold Watts Grimes and Frances Donald Dudley Grimes. Hal is preceded in death by his brother, Hugh Joseph Dudley.

Hal graduated from Moore Academy in Pine Apple in 1948 and from A.P.I., now known as Auburn University, with a B.S. in Agriculture in 1952.

He served his country in the U.S. Army as a 2nd Lt., 12th Army Field Artillery Unit for two years

in the Korean War. Following his discharge, he returned to Auburn University for his Master’s

Degree in Agronomy which he received in 1957. He accepted the position of Assistant Superintendent at the Black Belt Substation in Marion Junction, Alabama. He was later named

associate superintendent and became superintendent in 1985.

After over three decades of service to Alabama agriculture he retired as one of the most respected substation superintendents in the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station system.

Through the years Hal helped conduct a wide range of studies on beef and dairy cattle, forage

and small grain production, insect control in crops and much more.

Hal was a member of many organizations – the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association, a charter member of both the Lincoln Zephyr Owners Club and the Early Ford V-8 Club of America, the

Butler County Historical and Genealogical Society, the Wilcox Historical Society, the Mt Moriah Fellowship Baptist Church Board of Directors, the Alabama Farmers Federation Board and as a Director of the Federal Land Bank. He served as a deacon at Marion Junction Baptist Church in Marion Junction and Friendship Baptist Church in Pine Apple. He was instrumental in securing and restoring Moore Academy for the Moore Academy Alumni Association.

Known to always be a good source for local weather information, Hal collected rainfall data for the National Weather Service for over fifty years as a volunteer. 

On May 31, 1952, Hal married his high school sweetheart, Virginia “Ginger” Dell Lamkin of McWilliams, Alabama. A favorite family story is told that on May 31st, Hal was sworn into the Army at 10 AM, married Ginger at 2 PM and graduated from A.P.I. at 5 PM. Hal and Ginger were always practical – the wedding was planned on the same day as graduation because their families would be in Auburn.

In 1989 after thirty-two years working in Marion Junction for Auburn University he and Virginia retired and moved home to Pine Apple. 

Hal was a cattle farmer starting in his teenage years continuing through to the sale of his last cow in 2017. He enjoyed working on his farm in Pine Apple planting pine trees or cutting pulpwood. But while he loved his herd and trees, he also was an expert in automobiles; especially Fords, Lincolns and Mercurys. He bought his first vehicle when he was 15 – a 1939 Ford truck for $290, spending money earned from selling chickens, watermelons, and peas. 

Over the years he restored and collected many antique cars, trucks, and tractors. Family vacations would either revolve around antique car shows or American history sites as he also was a huge history lover. 

He built several pole barns to store hay or antique farm equipment. He amassed a large collection of antique farm tools and household items and many other items from Wilcox County having some donated by friends that knew he would enjoy adding them to his collections. Hal moved several log cabins and small barns and rebuilt them in Pine Apple. 

Proud of his family heritage, Hal was a descendant of veterans of both the Colonial Militia and the Revolutionary War. His ancestors were among some of the first to settle in the Alabama Territory around today’s Wilcox and Butler Counties. 

Hal was known as Dede to his grandchildren and great grandchildren. He loved spoiling them with time outdoors on the farm or in the garden teaching them a love for the rewards of hard work. 

He was an excellent storyteller and enjoyed a good sense of humor.  He was infamous for his sweet concoctions at the dinner table. 

He will be missed by all who knew him and remembered as a fine Christian and true Southern gentleman. 

A memorial service will be held later at Mt. Moriah Fellowship Baptist Church for family only. Interment will follow in the Mt. Moriah Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Moore Academy Restoration Fund and mailed to 24100 Highway 21 North, Beatrice, AL 36425. 

For online condolences, please visit www.dunklinfh.com