To many folks in Bladen County, the name Thomas Grimes is best affiliated with his alter ego of “Santa.” He enjoyed his role as Santa and many children in Bladen County were often the beneficiary of his jolly sense of humor and warm laughter.
He played the role of Santa at events throughout the region and in Bladen County for more than 20 years.
“I can’t express in words what he meant to us,” said Denise Bridgers of Lu Mil Vineyard.
Grimes has played the role of Santa at Lu Mil Vineyard for several years and was beloved by the many folks that visit Lu Mil Vineyard each year at Christmas.
Bridgers wrote the following tribute on the Lu Mil Vineyard Facebook page:
“Lu Mil Vineyard is very saddened by the loss of such a great community servant. He was loved by many & made lots of people happy when they visited him at Lu Mil Vineyard every Christmas. Thank you Santa for the impact you made on us at Lu Mil Vineyard & you will be greatly missed!”
Bridgers added that Grimes is the Santa that is featured on the label of the Merry Christmas Wine and the Christmas label for Lu Mil’s Muscadine Cider.
In addition to playing Santa for Lu Mil Vineyard, Grimes also assisted the Elizabethtown-White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.
“The Chamber is certainly mourning the loss of his smile and the great joy he brought to children in our Christmas parade,” said chamber Executive director Dawn Maynard.
She added that Grimes had ridden in the Chamber’s Christmas parade twice and Maynard said she enjoyed working with him.
He is survived by his spouse, Cecile Hunt Grimes; daughter, Sebrina Harris of Tar Heel; sisters, Edna Atkinson and husband Fred of Clarkton, Carolyn Moree and husband Mickey of Taylorsville, Louise Tedder and husband Billy of Elizabethtown; grandchildren, Drew Harris, Lydia Harris, Cacen Flowers and Jasper Grimes and Lucas Grimes.
The family will receive friends on Thursday, Dec. 3, from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. at Bladen-Gaskins Funeral Home. The funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 4, at Dublin First Baptist Church with the Rev. Cameron McGill and Rev. Warren Hill officiating. Burial will follow at Grimes Cemetery.
Flowers are welcome or donations may be made to Dublin First Baptist Church Operation Christmas Child (P.O. Box 187, Dublin, NC 28332).
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