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104-year-old is 'Queen' of Williamsport

The tribute to Ida Grimes, the town's oldest person, opened Williamsport Days

The tribute to Ida Grimes, the town's oldest person, opened Williamsport Days

August 19, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

WILLIAMSPORT -- Proclamations were read, pictures were snapped, and accolades and laughter flowed as Williamsport residents honored the oldest person in town Wednesday night.

The tribute to 104-year-old Ida Grimes also came in style.

Grimes arrived at the band shell in Byron Memorial Park in a long, white limousine and was led to a red, wingback chair at the front of a crowd that numbered more than 100 people.

People gathered around Grimes, delivering a sash and flowers to her.

"You want me to stand up?" Grimes asked, drawing laughs from the crowd.

Grimes was honored as the town opened Williamsport Days, which runs until Sunday. A town picnic is planned at the park's swimming pool Thursday night at 6, and an ox roast and dance are planned for the celebration.

But everything was about Grimes at the band shell Wednesday night.

Grimes is known for her long teaching career, which included time at Pinesburg School near Williamsport, and stories were told Wednesday night about her zeal for driving and how she drove until she was 100.

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Mayor James G. McCleaf II read a proclamation honoring Grimes, saying she lived through some interesting times in Williamsport, like when a trolley ran between the town and Hagerstown. Grimes was also in town when John F. Kennedy walked up Conococheague Street, McCleaf said.

Grimes graduated from the Maryland Normal School, now Towson University, and a Towson University representative came to honor Grimes.

Joe Tischer, a Hagerstown resident and a member of Towson University's board of visitors, wondered if there is a student at the school now who has the degree of grace and sense of commitment that Grimes possesses.

"On behalf of the human spirit, thank you," Tischer said.

Nelson Deal, emcee for the Williamsport Community Band performance, talked about people who are a light like a candle. Then there are others who are mirrors that reflect the light, Deal said.

"You are both," Deal told Grimes.

The band performed a special song for Grimes titled, "How Firm Thy Friendship."

Grimes sat quietly as the songs and praise were offered.

Toward the end of the ceremony, people began crowding around Grimes to talk with her and have their picture taken with her.

When she was asked what she thought of the attention, Grimes said, "Oh my."

"I didn't expect it all," she said.

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