Robert W. Grimm Sr. of Pendleton, an attorney and former Erie County clerk, died Monday in Delaware Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. He was 87.
Mr. Grimm was born in Buffalo and earned his law degree from the University of Buffalo in 1948.
He served as a lieutenant in the Navy during World War II and was based in both the European and Mediterranean theaters. He was a founding member of Grimm & Grimm Attorneys, which in 1994 became Magavern, Magavern, Grimm, LLP.
Mr. Grimm served as a Republican state committeeman before he was elected Erie County clerk in 1959. It was during his tenure as county clerk that he became embroiled in an intraparty struggle with then-State Senate Majority Leader Walter J. Mahoney.
According to an April 30, 1995, Buffalo News article by former News Political Reporter George Borrelli, the Grimm-Mahoney fracas became a local benchmark for measuring intraparty battles. It began after Nelson A. Rockefeller lost Erie County in his bid to become governor in 1962.
It "divided the GOP, depleted its treasury, fractured old friendships and alliances and opened wounds that took nearly a generation to heal," Borrelli wrote.
"In the end, Grimm was ousted as party chairman and voted out as county clerk. Mahoney, whose power in state politics was second only to that of Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller, lost his Senate seat. The long-term loser was the Erie County Republican Party, which took years to rebuild and reunite," Borrelli added.
In 1974, Mr. Grimm was defeated in his bid for another term as county clerk by Democrat Genevieve M. Starosciak. Subsequently, he succeeded John H. Cooke as Erie County Republican chairman.
He was board chairman of the St. Columban on the Lake retirement home in Silver Creek and was a member of the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic Lawyers Guild and the Blackthorn Club.
He is survived by his wife of 60 years, the former Elaine Craven; a son, Robert W. Jr.; a sister Helen Froustet; and two brothers, Richard A. and Ronald A.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Friday in Good Shepherd Catholic Church, 5441 Tonawanda Creek Road, Pendleton.