Cover photo for Robert Paul Grinch's Obituary
1956 Robert Paul Grinch 2024

Robert Paul Grinch

September 30, 1956 — May 9, 2024

Two days after riding out an evening tornado warning like a champ, Rob Grinch, a multi-faceted guy, died peacefully at home with loved ones beside him.

The youngest of four boys, “I’m NOT the baby of the family!”, Rob grew up in Central Ohio doing the usual things: playing baseball, Boy Scouts, bike-riding, traipsing through the woods with friends, being chased by dogs, and participating in high-spirited hijinks with his buddies.

As a life-long music lover, Rob played sousaphone and tuba in high school as well as drums and electric and acoustic guitar as an adult. Accompanied by friends as backup singers, Rob wrote and performed songs as the leader of a group he formed called The Scarlet Surge. He even cut a 45-rpm record locally in the ‘80s with the song “Buckeye Brew.” Buckeye Brew got some air play on the local AM radio station, 610 WTVN, on their weekend pregame football show. He had multiple presses made of the record and handed them out to friends along with a “deely-bopper” headband with two springs that stuck up from the top, crowned with a buckeye on each. Assorted musical instruments (kazoos, cowbell, tambourine, blocks, drumsticks, maracas, and harmonicas) were always handy and happily handed out to visitors so they could join in the music-making. 

When Rob wasn’t making music, he was listening to it. His notoriously wide-ranging taste in music led him to attend musicals and concerts galore. He’d switch up on who he went with and attended a few solo. Music was the thread that tied him to many people and they each have stories they could tell (although some may choose to remain silent).

Rob’s creativity and love of trees led him into the field of landscape architecture. No design detail ever went unnoticed when Rob was out and about. If his wife was with him, he’d drag her into the myriad photos he’d take so she’d be his “scale element” (since she is just over five feet tall). Trash cans, stairs, posts, signs, fences, plantings, you name it, Rob took photos of them—often, multiple photos of the same thing but from different angles. 

After retirement, Rob’s attention focused squarely on the backyard, which served as his canvas. He could often be found sketching design details that he had been noodling on napkins, backs of envelopes, paper placemats, and scrap paper. One of his masterpieces was a Hobbit-themed Little Free Library (Bilbo Baggins’ home) complete with a grass roof and an interior room diorama on each end of the library that was lighted at night by solar power. It was a Mother’s Day gift for his wife that took him two years to design and build. After a good snow, Rob could be found in the front yard building a snow creation (Yoda, a dinosaur, Minions, and a neighborhood “sign”) that he spritzed strategically with food dye. 

Rob’s love of creatures great and small came to the forefront in the backyard. Complete with a creek that serves as a wildlife corridor, Rob shared the backyard with a plethora of creatures including coyotes, foxes, deer, hawks, great blue herons, raccoons, opossums, woodpeckers, minks, crawdads, frogs, turtles, ducks, snakes, rabbits, and more. He wasn’t wild about the deer placidly munching the tender buds on his young trees, though, and erected nets/fencing around them to discourage snacking rather than do anything that would harm the deer.

Service, modeled by both of his schoolteacher parents, was no small part of Rob’s life. Through his career in public service with the City of Columbus and three state offices, Rob touched numerous projects including the design and construction of the Columbus Zoo amphitheater and numerous City parks, renovation of the Valentine Theater in Toldeo, construction of the new COSI buildings in Columbus and Toledo, and the construction of nine K-12 schools around Ohio, to name a few.

But Rob’s service didn’t end when he retired from the State. A Frank Lloyd Wright aficionado, he volunteered at the Wright-designed Wescott House in Springfield, Ohio, giving tours of the house and property. He volunteered as a mentor to students in the OSU Department of Landscape Architecture, providing them insight and guidance on their designs and the design profession. Rob was one of the founders of THWART, a loosely formed group of residents from area neighborhoods who demanded their voices be heard by the City of Columbus regarding the intense development pressure affecting residents’ quality of life and livelihoods. Rob was an integral part of the team that transitioned THWART into the West Scioto Area Commission, where he served as the Zoning Committee Chair. 

Rob’s immersion into Boy Scouts began anew when his son joined cub scouts and continued beyond when his son earned the rank of Eagle Scout. An Eagle Scout who earned three “palms,” Rob didn’t miss a camping trip or other scouting activity. He served Troop 73 as an Assistant Leader, sat on Eagle Scout Boards of Review, and went to Camp Falling Rock near Newark with the scouts every summer for a week through 2023 to help them earn merit badges and become self-reliant. And boy, there are some great stories about those times at camp!

But wait; there’s more. Rob served on a micro level, too, picking up trash in the nearby city park, pulling neighbors’ trash cans and recycling bins up to their houses after pickup, clearing storm drain grates, planting trees and shrubs for neighbors, shoveling others’ sidewalks and driveways, consulting on neighbors’ and family members’ plant materials and yard design construction details, and even walking dogs when their humans were unable.

The trees in Rob’s backyard produce profuse amounts of nuts each fall. He collected and donated them to the Ohio Wildlife Center and Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed (FLOW). He also dug up young trees and shrubs from the backyard and donated them to FLOW.

Rob’s family is grateful for the wonderful people at Capital City Hospice who provided the compassionate and professional care that allowed Rob to be home during his final days.

To best celebrate Rob’s life and remember him, please give of yourself through service to others and the planet. Take a moment to reflect on some of your favorite memories or stories of Rob when you are paying his service forward. 

In lieu of flowers, donations to American Forests, the Ohio Wildlife Center, or the Wescott House in Springfield, OH are welcome. A private family sendoff is planned for a later date.

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