Time out with T.O. - A birthday to remember

by Tom O'Connor, UNMC public relations | July 15, 2014

picture disc.
Robert Grissom, M.D., and Virginia Grissom
Few names resonate more on the UNMC campus than the name Grissom.

It began with Robert Grissom, M.D., who joined UNMC in 1953 as chairman of the internal medicine department and as one of four original full-time clinical faculty members.

For more than 50 years, Dr. Grissom was a fixture at UNMC. He retired in 1987 but you would see him everywhere, hustling to Grand Rounds, the library, the fitness center.

What a man -- classy, convivial, the picture of healthy aging. He was truly a living legend.

Dr. Grissom died five years ago at the age of 92. He will forever be remembered as a difference maker at UNMC.

As the expression goes, "Behind every great man there's a great woman." And so it was with Dr. Grissom.

TIME OUT picture disc.
by Tom O'Connor

On Wednesday, the UNMC campus will celebrate the 95th birthday of Virginia Grissom, Dr. Grissom's wife of 64 years and a UNMC supporter extraordinaire.

For many years, she volunteered as a docent giving tours to visiting groups. She also put in countless hours working the reception desk in the surgery waiting room.

The Grissoms contributed a great deal to UNMC, said Amy Volk, vice president and director of UNMC development for the University of Nebraska Foundation. They focused their donations on things they were passionate about -- the McGoogan Library of Medicine, the Home Instead Center for Successful Aging and its EngAge Wellness program for seniors.

"Virginia is an inspiration," Volk said. "She quietly supports many areas at UNMC, and she is as excited about her giving and its impact as a child on Christmas morning.

"I always admired her strong relationship with Dr. Grissom and how they enriched each other's life. After his death, despite her sadness, she carried on with her activities and continues to bring her spark and lilt wherever she goes."

Despite two hip replacement surgeries and a back surgery, Virginia still remains quite active. "I just keep going," she said. "I don't sit too much."

A mother, grandmother and great grandmother, she reads at least one book a week, still drives a car, plays bridge, does email every day and seldom watches television.

"She's a fabulous woman," said Jane Potter, M.D., chief of geriatrics and gerontology. "The Grissoms never stopped giving. They have been stalwarts across the decades."

Enjoy the day, Virginia -- you deserve it. And may you have many happy returns.


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Sandy Goetzinger-Comer
July 15, 2014 at 3:38 PM

Thank you for drawing attention to Virginia Grissom's contributions. Happy birthday to one of UNMC's heros.

Nicole Lindquist
July 15, 2014 at 12:54 PM

Great column, TO!