Photo courtesy of the Vidalia Onion Committee

W.J. Grimes, one of the original growers in the Vidalia onion deal, died Nov. 3 at the age of 84.

Grimes had a major role in the early organization of the industry, involved in efforts including determining a designated area for the growing of Vidalia onions, setting up a marketing order, and getting a trademark for what is now the signature vegetable of the state, said Bob Stafford, interim executive director of the Vidalia Onion Committee.

Grimes was also a major advocate for controlled-atmosphere storage for the sweet onions, a development that allowed growers to significantly extend their shipping season.

Stafford described Grimes as a man of his word and someone who believed that all members of the industry should contribute through assessments to research and promotion of the deal.

“He would push his ideas ... He didn’t know the word ‘no,’” Stafford said. “He wouldn’t ask nobody to do anything he wouldn’t do, but he was a pusher, and I believe that his attitude is one of the reasons that the Vidalia onion is what it is today.”

Grimes was the owner of Grimes Farms, McRae, Ga., which he eventually sold to Del Monte.

The Vidalia Onion Committee recognized Grimes as Grower of the Year in 1998 and added him to the Vidalia Onion Hall of Fame in 1999.

Grimes is survived by his wife Bernice, sons Jimmy and Wayne, three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, among other family.

Condolences may be expressed at the Lowe’s Funeral Home website.