Well-known Washington County salvage yard owner dies

January 08, 2002

Well-known Washington County salvage yard owner dies


Elwood William Grimm, a well-known Washington County salvage yard owner, died Sunday. He was 78.

"He was a good man, well liked and well known. He'd give you the shirt off your back if he could afford it," said Chris Crites, 31, of Big Pool, who had known Grimm for about 15 years.

About 20 years ago Grimm, of Smithsburg, was one of the most active bail bondsmen in Washington County. But Grimm was best known as the owner of Elwood's Auto Exchange on Md. 64 in Chewsville.

Grimm's salvage yard has been in operation for more than 50 years, and might be the largest in Maryland, said his son Bodie Grimm, 41, of Chewsville.


Elwood Grimm had more than 10,000 vehicles on the 68-acre salvage yard, and he was actively running his business until two or three days ago, when he went into the hospital, Crites said.

Bodie Grimm said his father had battled leukemia for seven years. About a month ago, he said, his father was in a car accident near Boonsboro in which his hand was broken and his head injured.

Elwood Grimm went to Washington County Hospital with a severe headache Wednesday and on Friday had an operation to remove blood from around his brain, his son said. He died Sunday at the hospital.

"He lived for his grandkids. He loved his grandkids, He was the best dad you'd ever want to have," Bodie Grimm said.

Bodie Grimm said his father was a forgiving and generous man.

"Everybody knew him. He'll be missed, that's for sure," Crites said.

Elwood Grimm was a colorful figure who went through several well-publicized brushes with law enforcement and government officials in the 1980s.

Local lore has it that the sight of Grimm's salvage yard prompted Lady Bird Johnson to start the "Keep America Beautiful" group. Actually, however, Johnson joined the campaign years after it began, according to a Keep America Beautiful spokeswoman. Once behind the group's efforts, Johnson did become an active spokesperson for the group.

In the early 1980s, Grimm spent six months in jail after police found stolen property at his salvage yard and home. Then in the late 1980s, Grimm spent more than a year in prison for selling a handgun silencer to an undercover police officer.

Grimm is survived by his wife Mary Catherine; one daughter Kendra K. Lookabaugh, of Hagerstown; two sons, Bodie Grimm, and Jon W. Grimm, of Hagerstown; 10 grandchildren, six stepgrandchildren, his brothers Grady M. Grimm and Bobbie E. Grimm; and a niece and nephew.

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