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2001 Grissom Reunion Recap
Photos Courtesy of Corrine Opel

Here's What Happened:

All the Hillis' are amazed that we are descended
from the Roman Emperor Charlemagne.
Sylva made this outstanding genealogy find.

The Reunion was held in the Conference Lodge of Henry Horton State Park in Chapel Hill, TN on Saturday. August 4, 2001. Many relatives came early to visit. It was so good to see Delores Russell looking well after a rough winter. Aunt Zelma Lee Grissom has made a good recovery and was busy visiting with all the relation. She is always the "queen" of the party and as sweet as ever. Donald Sanders made the trip from Lincoln Park MI with his wife, Jeanell, who is suffering from Alzheimer's. We were so glad to have them with us.

The room was decorated with a large banner proclaiming "The Grissom Family Reunion 2001". There was a "family tree" where everyone could place their name on their appropriate branch. Attractive young Grissom ladies greeted the family members as they arrived. Susan Opel, Lauren and Karen Skop handed out name tags and collected the registration fee. Janis Hillis helped people find their ancestor on the tree. Paul Opel had a laptop computer available where all could view our Grissom Family website on the internet. A popular spot was a display table full of genealogy information that Sylva Hildebrandt has gathered over the years about the Grissom Family. Sylva also provided candy bars at each place setting with specially printed wrappers which depicted John and Florence Grissom, the reunion date and a little poem about the importance of family.

Main Reunion Page
Details & Planning
Details & Planning
Reunion Recap
Details & Planning
Reunion Recap

Marvin Rigsby led the group in prayer before the catered meal was served and enjoyed by all.

Such a nice surprise! Cousin Dick Grissom
and wife Judy visit Cabin 4.
They bring their cute granddaughter, Kaitlyn McReynolds.

Corrine Opel, chairman of the Reunion, gave opening remarks. We were happy to have visitors at our reunion. Jeff Grissom and his father, Larry, had seen our Grissom website on the internet and wondered if they were somehow related to us. Corrine and Sylva had corresponded with Jeff and although we cannot find a connection, we thought it was nice that they joined us. Jeff is from Nashville and Larry from Lewisburg, TN. They got a kick out of everything and I think they just wish they were related to this great group of people. We liked them, too.

We had a "get acquainted" activity where people were divided into eleven groups, mixing up the families. People were asked to interview the person next to them. They found out their name, hometown and occupation. There were also two questions to ask: 1) Who would be the person they wished most would be able to attend this reunion? and 2) What was their earliest childhood memory? The results were fascinating and it was good to get to know each other a little better. It was interesting how many of our group are teachers, former teachers and teachers-to-be. Many people wished their parents or grandparents could to be here, others longed for those who have passed away or for whatever reason were not able to attend this year. It was good to look back. As for childhood memories there was a great variety, some good, some not so good. Many people remembered when younger siblings were born. Some remembered thunderstorms, house fires, when the cow ran dry, doing things with their siblings, visits from relatives, vacations and trips to Grandma's. And that one little girl will always be traumatized by her uncle throwing her Baby Ruth candy bar out of the truck into the river!

Jonathan is a little tired
The reunion is just a little
too exciting for David Opel

Melvin Grissom was glad to report that as far as we know all Grissoms made it through the last two years and there were no deaths. The little ones keep coming and we were glad to add David (the little boy with the broken leg) and Jonathan Opel, Charlotte Lemke and Matthew Rigsby to our family tree.

By special request Beth, Paul, Kurt and Susan Opel sang the Reunion Song. They had to change the words a little since we no longer meet in Shelbyville. They had not rehearsed and didn't have their accompaniment tape along, but it still sounded great. The folks gave them a big hand for their efforts.

Many people were curious about the recent movie "The Green Mile" and the suggestion that part of it was filmed on Aunt Carrie and Uncle Lester's farm in Chapel Hill. Their granddaughter, Tricia McBride, explained which parts of the movie were made at their house and movie goers were fascinated to know this actually took place.

Corrine announced that the next reunion will be Saturday, August 2, 2003 here at Henry Horton Conference Lodge again. Hope to see y'all then. She was given a round of applause for her work in organizing this event.

This was followed by the ritual of making pictures. Cameras were flashing right and left. There was a shot of the grandchildren of John and Florence Grissom. Grandchildren included Sylva Hildebrandt, Corrine Opel, Eva Hillis, Judy Hillis, Delores Russell, Dick Grissom, Melvin Grissom, Odell Grissom, Nola Klein and Goodwin Scott. Then their children gathered for a photo. Then their children's children gathered. We have two little ones in the fourth generation, Thelma and Sterling Rigsby's great-grand children, Riley Swoape and Matthew Rigsby. There was also a picture made of Aunt Zelma Lee and the littlest kids. That was a wiggly bunch and we had to make it quick before they crawled away. We are glad to report Aunt Zelma Lee sat nice and still!

Here's The 63 People That Attended:

    Aunt Edith's family:
  • Donald Sanders and wife, Jeanell from Lincoln Park, MI
  • Patty Vickers Baty of Pegram, TN (We wish her mother, Gladys, could have come but she just had cataract surgery)
Riley and Matthew
The 4th generation -
Riley and Matthew
    Aunt Ozella's family:
  • Marvin and Brenda Rigsby of McMinnville TN
  • Kevin and Cari Rigsby and baby Matthew of Woodbury TN
  • Karen Rigsby of Goodlettsville TN
  • Sandy and Leonard Hillis of Chattanooga TN
  • Julie Swoape and little Riley of McMinnville TN and Anthony Willoughby, Julie's friend
  • Jim and Kim Rigsby and little Caleb of Bates Hills TN and Joshua Rigsby of Rock Island TN
  • Michaelee Binge of Pontiac MI
  • Janis Hillis and her daughter Mariah Kemp from El Paso TX
  • Sylva and Bill Hildebrandt of South Lyon MI
  • Karen Skop and her daughter Lauren of Livonia MI
  • Corrine and Ed Opel of Bay City MI
  • Beth Opel of Fort Wayne IN
  • Paul and Ellen Opel of Baldwinsville NY
  • Kurt and Anna Opel, and babies David and Jonathan of Anaheim CA
  • Susan Opel of Fort Wayne IN
  • Eva Hillis and Andrew Harbison of Howell MI
  • Amy and Kevin Lemke and three daughters, Julia, Gillian and Charlotte of Howell MI
  • Judy Hillis of Howell MI and Jim Sims of Redford MI
    From Uncle Lester's family:
  • Delores Russell of Madison TN and Patricia McBride of Nashville TN
    From Uncle Kimera's family:
  • Dick Grissom and his wife Judy of Knoxville TN and their granddaughters Kimera and Kaitlyn McReynolds
    From Uncle Eiland's family:
  • Aunt Zelma Lee Grissom of Unionville TN
  • Melvin Grissom and wife Nancy of Unionville TN
  • Randy Grissom and his daughter Taylor of Bell Buckle TN and Stephanie Cahill of Murfreesboro TN (friend of Randy)
  • Nola Klein of Hermitage TN
  • Odell Grissom and wife Patti of Atlanta, GA and Gilda Clarke (Patti's mother) of Murfreesboro TN
    From Aunt Addine's family:
  • Goodwin Allen Scott of Chapel Hill TN
  • Larry Grissom, of Lewisburg TN and Jeff Grissom of Nashville, TN

Much love and success to all of you, WE ARE THE GRISSOMS!!
Love, Corrine

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