Cover photo for Kenneth D. R. Grimes's Obituary
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1949 Kenneth 2023

Kenneth D. R. Grimes

April 14, 1949 — October 12, 2023

Denver

 

Life’s Journey

Kenneth D. R. Grimes

 

Kenneth Grimes (aka Dad, Grandad, Papa Grimes, Uncle Ken, and Baba Grimes) was born on April 14, 1949, in Denver, CO to Geneva Grimes(Braxton). Growing up one of seven children, Kenneth was always surrounded by an abundance of love. He grew up in the Lincoln Park Projects on the west side of Denver where he first began to show his gift of storytelling. After graduating from Denver West high school, he went on to attend Colorado Northwest Community College and from there Colorado State University where he received a bachelors degree in English/Education and eventually a masters degree in Community Education. It was during this time at CSU that while spending time with his longtime friend Alex Burl he met his wife of 52 years, Gerie Grimes.

 

Kenneth leaves to cherish his memory and legacy, two sons, Troy, and Aaron Grimes. Troy and Aaron adored their father and credit him as being their number 1” example of what it means to be a man. They have so many fond memories of Ken but mostly that he was a true partner for their mother and that everything they built and stood for they did so together. Also, they speak about him being their first coach. Aaron says, I remember Dad and Godpop having us run at the field on 26th and Quebec which is now a park. Not knowing then that the work ethic, resiliency and standard of excellence they were instilling in us while they ran us to exhaustion would be the very guiding principles that I now live and share with myself and my kids”. Troy remembers, Dad was a confident man, secure in his self so much so that coming to watch me play football in knee high socks, short shorts and bad shoes gave him no shame. In fact, I now have a greater understanding of the importance of being authentically myself because of my Dad”. Both Troy and Aaron speak fondly about being the pilot tests for so many of their dads programs that he designed and implemented for positive youth and family development as well as his script readers for his mesmerizing plays. They say that both Ken and their mother Gerie left behind a deep, rich legacy of love and service that will forever be continued by them, their children, and their extended family.

 

Aside from his sons Ken was known as the Patriarch of the family to his younger siblings and many cousins and his grandkids alike. He could be found hanging out with his cousin Anthony Wahoo” Wallace for many many years. Up until Anthonys departure from his earthly body just a year previous they would still get together regularly for lunch and to talk about the good ole days. Aunt Eudora remembers them all living at the family house on Williams Street and the love and joy that they all had living under one roof. His brother Jerome could be seen beside him even in his last days, caring and loving and sharing in brotherly bond. His cherished grandkids and great grandkids were the sparkle in his eye just like they were for his wife, Gerie. He would take them everywhere and do everything with them. They performed with him during Kwanzaa celebrations, invited him to their schools to perform magic or demonstrate science projects and could be seen singing by his bedside later when he became less able to come to them.

 

Kenneth was a Servant Leader, Educator, Griot (storyteller), Visionary, Creator and much much more. As a Director of CSU 4H he served between 3,000 -- 9,000 youth and families annually, coordinating school enrichment, after school programs and a variety of workshops in leadership, values, conflict resolution, skills-based programs in theater, gardening, photography and science related offerings in STEM and STREAM.  Also, he worked with youth development agencies, schools, and institutions to design programs utilizing research-based concepts and juried curriculum. A few programs include SPACES, a science enrichment program, CARE to Wait, an abstinence program, 4-H Master Gardeners, rites of passage and more.  He partnered with over 250 agencies, institutions and schools brokering a variety of educational and other cultural/civic and arts related services. He developed the Strengthening the Village Project to enhance the capacity of twelve community-based agencies to make a difference in the lives of low-income families related to poverty and entrepreneurism.

 

On the performing arts end where so many know him for, he was accomplished and truly gifted. He truly is one of the great creatives from the Midwest region in this current era. He wrote award-winning musicals, plays, short stories, and featured articles.  Recent musicals include Uncle Jeds Barbershop, a finalist for the ONeill Musical Theatre Conference; winner of the ASCAP Disney Award, Directors Choice Award and Off-Broadway showcase for the New York Musical Theatre Festival.  He also wrote, Reverend W. T. Liggins; Passion Rhapsody; and Aint No Grave, about the first female African American doctor in Colorado.  Musicals include Barca: Men of Lightning about the ancient Phoenician General, Hannibal; and Gifts: A Lesson in Giving, a show written as a traveling production for the Denver Public Schools.  A musical entitled Girlz, engaged youth and adults learning from each other in a gospel dramatization; Dramatic plays are numerous and include The Queen Must Die and Black Punk.  Ken was also an accomplished director, having served as artistic director of the Denver Black Arts Company and primary director for Eulipions Cultural Center for several years.  Plays of note include Mahalias Song By Dr. Vada Butcher which ran for over two years.  He directed the popular Mama I Wanna Sing by Vy Higginsen and Ken Wydro, which also benefited from a long run.  Ken was a trained dramaturge and served as President of Colorado Dramatists having work shopped with some of the countrys most noted writers as Peter Shaffer (Amadeus) and August Wilson (Fences). Stephen Schwartz, Wicked, and others. 

 

Designated as a Kwanzaa Elder in the Circle of Wisdom, Ken provided workshops, storytelling and a variety of educational activities for community development. He was a sought after storyteller, trained facilitator and trainer in such topics as organizational development and Being Unstoppable.”  He was a community activist for the performing arts, having served on panels for the Colorado Council on the Arts (now Colorado Creative Industries), the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District and the Mayors Commission on the Arts as well as the Colorado Black Roundtables Performing Arts Council.  He played an instrumental role in establishing the Denver School of the Arts. Ken served on numerous committees including the Mayors African American Commission where he served as Chair of the Education Committee.  He is a co-founder of the Colorado Black Arts Movement: an Arts Advocacy Organization.

 

Ken received the Community Educator of the Year Award” from EduCtr in 2012.  Received the Peoples Choice Award for Arts, Culture & Community Affairs” – 2012 Received the CSU Extension Diversity Award in 1998, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011 and the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents award in 2010 and 2011 for influencing decisions to improve diversity policies and programs for the university locally and nationally. He was selected to the National Extension Leadership Development Project in 1999 through 2001 – One of 26 leaders selected nationally to participate in the Extension systems premiere leadership development program.  Leaders were trained and mentored by the Systems top directors including recognized frontrunners as Stephen Covey and others.  Training included travel to a select group of cities.  A variety of experiences were designed to increase awareness and to test situational responses while shadowing police officers, interviewing Federal, State, and Community leaders, problem solving and partaking in an international experience.  Twenty six days were spent in Thailand, interacting with the countrys leaders and the United States Embassy staff in an unforgettable manner.

 

On Oct 12, 2023, the sunset on Kenneth Baba” Grimes where he drifted peacefully in his home to reunite with his wife, Gerie in eternal bliss. He is preceded in death by his mother Geneva Braxton, sisters Kathie Winona Limes-Braxton, Yvonne Johnson, brothers James Alan Braxton, Shawn Regnald Johnson. Those left to cherish his memory include his sons, Troy Del Ray (Teresa) Grimes, Aaron (Shean) Dion Grimes Denver, Colorado, his brothers Jerome Paul Johnson, Carle Ramon Braxton both of Denver, Colorado, a host of nieces and nephews, 16 Grandchildren, and 18 Great-grandchildren.

 

Kenneth would leave you with a word a wisdom as he was filled with an infinite amount. Ken believed in the power of Collective vision, work and responsibility(Ujima) and he demonstrated throughout his 74 years that Ujima along with faith removes barriers, dismantles inequities and shifts power to those around the country who may have come from humble beginnings similar to his growing up on the Westside of Denver. Ase

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Thursday, October 26, 2023

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Friday, October 27, 2023

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