Every town, every village, and every hamlet has its unnamed heroes. In Montauk, there’s Vinnie Grimes, who was recognized and given the Good Deed Award from the Boy Scouts, Suffolk County Trailblazer District, at a dinner at Gurney’s Inn on Oct. 21.
Mr. Grimes also received a slew of proclamations from the Town of East Hampton, the State of New York, and Suffolk County. The state’s says, “A great state is only as great as those persons who give. Long Island has profoundly benefited by the commitment of Vincent E. Grimes.”
A Montauk native, Mr. Grimes, 83, attended both the Montauk School and East Hampton High School. As a boy scout he progressed to the rank of Life Scout, but came up a few merit badges shy of Eagle Scout. During four years’ service in the Navy, he watched a Blessing of the Fleet ceremony in California and thought it would be a good idea for Montauk’s fleet. He approached the local priest to bless his boat, the Cigarette, and the idea caught on. The Blessing of the Fleet has only grown over the years.
An owner of two gas stations, Mr. Grimes was known for hiring local kids. He reportedly treated them as his own and expected from them the same things he expected from his own two sons, Keith and James.
He is a member of American Legion Post 419 in Amagansett and served on its board for six years. He is active in his church and the Knights of Columbus. A member of the Lions Club for 20 years, Mr. Grimes is also an active member of the Montauk Historical Society and can be seen selling hot dogs from a truck at its annual arts and crafts fairs.
A longtime member of the Montauk Fire Department, he has served on its house committee and board of commissioners. When he retired as a commissioner, he rejoined as a firefighter. In 1986, he had the honor of leading the Montauk Friends of Erin St. Patrick’s Day parade as grand marshal.
Mr. Grimes helped establish the horse shows that used to be held in the hamlet to benefit local organizations. As a scoutmaster, he helped rejuvenate Boy Scout Troop 136 in the late 1990s. He and a friend set up a tent in the Grimes living room and talked his son James into being the new scoutmaster. The troop is still thriving and has now produced six Eagle Scouts.
Mr. Grimes was speechless when he arrived at the awards dinner and realized it was for him. “They dug up stuff I had long forgotten,” he said.
As for all those proclamations and awards, the honoree said, “I’m going to have to build another wall.”