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Longtime Cape Girardeau judge Grimm dies at St. Louis hospital
Stanley A. Grimm of Cape Girardeau, a former Missouri Court of Appeals and circuit court judge whose legal career spanned six decades, died Thursday morning at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis.
Grimm, 79, passed away following heart surgery at the hospital.
Known as a model jurist who approached every case with professionalism and impartiality, Grimm was elected in 1972 as circuit judge for the 32nd Judicial Circuit that covers Cape Girardeau, Bollinger and Perry counties. In 1987, he was appointed by Gov. John Ashcroft to the Eastern District of the Missouri Court of Appeals, where he served for 12 years until his retirement in 1998.
Federal Judge Stephen Limbaugh Jr., who replaced Grimm on the circuit court bench in 1987, said Grimm's appointment to the court of appeals demonstrated a deep respect for his capabilities.
"It was a remarkable occurrence that Ashcroft selected him," Limbaugh said. "Ashcroft, a Republican, wasn't known for going outside the party when it came to judicial appointments. The fact that he selected Stanley Grimm, a Democrat, for the post showed that his credentials were beyond reproach."
Limbaugh added that Grimm was one of a handful of judges he considered to be at the top of his profession.
"My first cases as a private attorney were before him, and I argued in front of him as a prosecutor. He exuded a professionalism and a competence that I rarely saw among anyone else. He was a mentor to me all through my career."
A 1954 graduate of Northeast Missouri State Teacher's College (now Truman State University), Grimm attended the University of Missouri School of Law, where he graduated in 1959. He was admitted to the Missouri Bar the same year and practiced law in Cape Girardeau for the next 13 years until his election as circuit court judge.
Judge William Syler, a current circuit judge for the 32nd Circuit, remembered Grimm as a man who led by example.
"Back when I was an assistant prosecutor, I arrived at my office on an incredibly snowy day," Syler said. "I was dressed in jeans and a flannel shirt, and I soon received a phone call from Judge Grimm who told me that there was a defendant in Jackson who wanted to plead guilty to a crime and that I needed to get to the courthouse.
"I explained to Judge Grimm that I wasn't dressed appropriately for court. But he insisted I get there, adding, 'I'll pick you up.' The judge picked me up in Cape and drove me to Jackson and even drove me back to my office in bad weather. It was in line with his philosophy of getting a case out of the way so that it's not sitting around waiting for someone else to do the work. It's a philosophy that I have adopted as my own."
In addition to his duties while serving as a circuit court judge, Grimm was appointed to the Missouri Supreme Court's Circuit Court Budget Committee from 1978 to 1983. He was designated as the first chairman of the Presiding Judge Committee, serving from 1979 to 1980. In 1981, he was named to the Supreme Court's Committee on Criminal Charges and Instructions, eventually becoming committee chairman and serving through 1985. Grimm was also an instructor at the Supreme Court's college for new trial judges, and he was a staunch advocate of Missouri's non-partisan plan for the selection of Missouri's Supreme Court and appellate court judges.
In 1993, he was honored by the Missouri Supreme Court for his distinguished service, dedication and devotion to the administration of justice. In 2000, he received the Spurgeon Smithson Award which is presented annually by the Missouri Bar Foundation to Missouri judges, teachers of law and lawyers deemed "to have rendered outstanding service toward the increase and diffusion of justice among men."
Grimm's influence in the community was felt not just in the legal arena. He served as past president of the board of trustees at Southeast Hospital and was on the board of directors of First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Southeast Missouri and the Greater Cape Girardeau Development Corp. Grimm was also an active member of St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Cape Girardeau with his wife, Jane, 79, who survives at the home.
Grimm has three sons: David, chief administrator officer and general counsel of Forestar Group Inc. in Austin, Texas; Mark, a lawyer with the public-finance law firm Gilmore & Bell in St. Louis; and John, a lawyer with the Limbaugh Law Firm in Cape Girardeau. The younger John Grimm also followed in his father's footsteps when he served as a judge in the 32nd Judicial Circuit from 1993 to 2003.
"Our dad was a great role model for my brothers and I, as well as for many others," John said Thursday. "He led by example, as a Christian, father, attorney and judge. He knew there were risks associated with his surgery, but he said he would either wake up and be with our mother or he would wake up in heaven. He was very comfortable with either result."
Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday at Ford and Sons Mount Auburn Funeral Home. A memorial service will be held at 1:30 p.m. Monday at St. Andrew Lutheran Church.