Tehachapi Mayor Ed Grimes was remembered Tuesday as “Voice of the Warriors,” “Mr. Tehachapi,” “Coach Grimes,” “Papa Ed” and ultimately as an ambassador for the city of Tehachapi.
“He cared about the city, he cared about his family, he cared about the church; honestly, I’m not sure there was anything he didn’t care about,” his son Michael Grimes said during the memorial service held for his dad.
The community gathered at Tehachapi High School to celebrate the life of Grimes, who died May 21. Approximately 1,000 people came to share memories of the mayor and hear from his family and close friends, filling seats on the gym floor and the bleachers on the west side of the gym.
The service included a welcome and prayer, followed by military honors from the United States Army Honor Guard for Grimes’ three years of service in the Army. Multiple speakers then shared stories that moved the audience to laugh and cry.
The longest part of the service was a slideshow of photos from the mayor’s life that depicted his time spent raising money for THS, attending the football games, going to community events and spending time with family.
Multiple speakers, who stood at a podium surrounded by flowers and a photo of Grimes, spoke of Grimes’ love for the THS Warriors and in particular the football team. Former city manager Jason Caudle recalled how Grimes remembered all the local sports games and kept a baseball on a mantle in his office from a 1985 championship game.
“Every mom and dad waited in the stands for Ed to call their kids’ name. Every player on that field waited for Ed to call their name. And everybody in the stands waited for Ed to say, ‘Touchdown, Tehachapi!’” Caudle said.
People laughed as Caudle described Grimes’ “tyrannical rule” as “king of the pancake breakfast,” which the mayor coordinated annually to raise money for the Warrior Boosters.
“He raised thousands from this event, and gave the team a much-needed lesson in giving back to the community,” Caudle said.
Michelle Vance, district manager of the Tehachapi Valley Recreation & Park District, and Nikki Cummings, president of World Wind & Solar, called themselves the “self-proclaimed presidents of the Ed Grimes fan club.” They shared the story of Grimes having football players go out on the street and sell game tickets. They said this led to one player dubbing him “Pimp Daddy Grimes," inciting laughter from the audience.
Vance and Cummings, who wore personalized Tehachapi jerseys, ended their speech with Grimes’ iconic “Touchdown, Tehachapi!”
“There’s no doubt that Ed loved his Warriors,” Vance said.
People also remembered Grimes’ work for the city. City Manager Greg Garrett, who served alongside Grimes for 10 years, said Grimes’ final act as mayor was signing certificates of recognition for members of the Tehachapi Police Department. Garrett also said that Grimes “was a no-nonsense, get-it-done guy” who represented Tehachapi well at the state and national level.
“Mayor Grimes understood the meaning of our city’s motto: ‘Respecting our past, and planning our future,’” Garrett said.
Multiple speakers also shared jokes about Grimes proudly giving out numerous keys to the city, so much so that they had to change the locks to City Hall, Garrett said.
Grimes’ Christian faith was present in the service through music, prayers and representatives from the Tehachapi Church of Christ, where Grimes had served as an elder. Mark Bixler, the church’s minister, paused his speech to play the worship song “Where the Roses Never Fade,” which Grimes used to sing at the church.
Another major theme of stories shared was Grimes’ dedication to his family. Michael Grimes, who stood at the front with his daughter, said that as a foster child, his father had never had a model of a father figure. However, he said his father worked to be a leader for youth in the community as a coach and in other roles.
“My dad never had a father figure in his life growing up. He was going to make sure that wasn’t going to happen to others, and he did,” Michael Grimes said.
People in the audience included members of the Tehachapi Police Department and the Kern County Fire Department, Kern County Second District Supervisor Zack Scrivner, Assemblywoman Shannon Grove and a group of THS students in their jerseys.
In honor of Grimes, Coffee with the Mayor will continue on the third Thursday of every month at the Coffee Mill, Garrett said.
The service was kept brief and lasted an hour and a half in respect to Grimes, who hated drawn-out meetings, Bixler said.
“Ed would have it no other way,” Bixler said.