Michael Grimaldi, Pioneer Developer, Dies
By Charles Blaum
Northwest Florida and the Miracle Strip are saddened today by the death on Saturday at Eglin Air Force Base Hospital of Col. Mike Grimaldi, one of the last of the pioneer developers of the region.
Col. Grimaldi was born in Bari, Italy, March 6, 1895, and when an infant his parents emigrated to New York City, where he grew up.
As a youngster he showed talent for the theater and was picked by Gus Edwards, the developer of many of our stars, for his “School Days” revue, the starting point for Eddie Cantor, Walter Winchell, the Lane Sisters and a host of others who later made the “big time.”
But young Mike was playing hookey from school in order to make his theatrical appointments, and when his father discovered his theatrical career, he put a sudden halt to it.
But show business’ loss was the army’s gain.
In 1915, when 18, he joined the 2nd Regiment of Engineers and saw service with the Pershing expedition into Mexico during the chase of the bandit Pancho Villa after the raid on Columbus, N. M.
He served in the army through World War I, after which he retired from active duty and returned to his home in New York City.
In 1924, after hearing about homestead land in Florida, he paid his first visit to Walton County and surveyed his homestead.
With his younger brother, Tony, their land was cleared and houses of hand-hewn timber and homemade bricks were built.
Then they returned to New York until 1940, when they decided to make Florida their permanent home. But then World War II came along and he was recalled to active duty with the rank of major and eventually became a part of the 3rd Army under General Patton.
It was not until 1951, when he retired from active duty, that he was able to bring his family back to their beloved Florida. Since then he has devoted his time, talent and money to the civic betterment and development of Walton County and the Miracle Strip, interests that kept him busy until his death.
In this place, where almost every other person one meets is a
And with the fading of Colonel Grimaldi, a lot of color has faded from the Miracle Strip.
Survivors are his widow Dorothy, of Miramar Beach, three daughters, Miss Barbara Grimaldi, of Miramar Beach, Mrs. Ruth G. Burwell and Mrs. Mar- ion G. Wright, Pensacola, and five brothers and one sister.
A Rosary will be said Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., at McLaughlin Mortuary and funeral services will be held at 10 a.m., Wednesday from Chapel Three at Eglin.
Active pall bearers are Lt. [Col.] Ralph Ritteman, Lt. Col. Bill McCowen, Brentwood Bryan, Henry Nichols, Lt. Col. T. Salimeno and Vernon Bishop.
Honorary pall bearers are Clyde B. Wells, Paul Thompson, John Sirmans, James Tringas, John Cox, Ovid Douglas, Paul Teelin, Tom Fountain, M. V. Rouden, Robert Frazier, Robert Moore, Bob Sikes, A. G. Campbell, Paul Roberts, F. C. Sibert, D. M Young, Elbert Davis, Charles Stewart, John MacKenzie, G. Ravello Cornwell and Raymond Cornwell.
Interment will be at 12:30 p.m., in Barrancas National Cemetery, Pensacola.
The family requests that flowers be omitted.
[Source: Playground Daily News, May 6, 1968, Page 1]
[Burial: Barrancas National Cemetery, Pensacola]