“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it does not matter.” — Mark Twain
Eva Lou Grimsley, “Coach Grizz”, will be best remembered as an unrelenting competitor at any and all games, a tenacious athlete, an avid sports fan, a legendary tennis coach, a fair and firm teacher, a fanatic for learning new information and so much more. Mom meant many things to many people. She was a loyal friend, an incredible grandmother, a lover of cats, a perfectionist, and a hard worker at anything she took on. She was a role model for her family, friends, neighbors, and the kids she taught/coached. Mom had extremely high standards for herself and expected the same from the people around her. And if you were unfortunate enough to get on her bad side, she could hold a grudge for years.
Eva Lou was born in a farmhouse in Zillah, WA. She had two older brothers pushing her to be tough, brave and fierce. Mom grew up during the Depression and all three kids had jobs at a young age to keep the household going. Eva Lou’s father passed when she was very young so there was no shirking your responsibility or else there would not be food on the table. Her mother was a teacher who instilled in her children a great respect for education. I think that is why Eva Lou became a teacher and a coach. She had faith that she could bring the best out of every child she taught. And she usually did.
Following in her brother’s footsteps, Eva Lou attended the University of Washington. I don’t know much about those years since Mom was not one to talk about herself. But I do know she was integral in getting the women’s field hockey team going and was recognized by the University of Washington for being a leader for women’s sports prior to the instigation of Title IX. Upon completion of school, Eva Lou returned to Yakima Valley to teach. She taught in the Valley for years, and that is where she met my dad, Floyd Grimsley. After marrying in 1967, Eva Lou and Floyd searched around the west side of the mountains until they ultimately settled on Vashon Island.
After moving to Vashon, they started building their dream home. While doing so, Mom and Dad lived in a tiny trailer with my grandmother, sister and three pets. Our home was finished enough to move into around 1970. As Mom would always tell me, that home was built with their blood, sweat and tears. She rarely wanted to leave the house and was proud to call it home. Anyone who visited would attest to the grounds looking like a park and the interior of the home being immaculate.
I like to think Mom left a legacy behind. To this day, people stop me and ask about Mom. They would have stories about her coaching them, their children, or their grandchildren. Mom made such an impact on her students and players; she would receive college graduation announcements, wedding invitations and birth announcements from kids she had not seen in years—even from people who were exchange students and lived on the other side of the world!
Mom touched many lives in her 89 years on this planet through 45 plus years of teaching and over 25 years of coaching. She will be missed by many.
A going-away party will be held on Sunday, August 25th, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., at 15019 119th Ave S.W. Please bring a plate of cookies.