I just received word from the National Shooting Sports Foundation that Grits Gresham died yesterday in his hometown of Natchitoches, Louisiana. Grits was 85. (For details click here.)
Sportsmen will no doubt remember Grits for the many years (some 26) in which he wrote for Sports Afield magazine. America will best remember him as one of the athletes (he was the fisherman) in the Miller Lite ads that made “tastes great, less filling,” one of the most popular ad slogans of all time.
What you probably don’t know is just how nice a guy Grits Gresham really was. More than 15 years ago, my wife and I were invited to attend a special fund-raising shoot in Gleneagles, Scotland. The Gresham’s were also invited along with Bob Brister and his wife. We had a grand time going to the theatre in London, touring castles, and, of course, shooting.
I was working for Petersen’s HUNTING at the time and felt a little out of my league to be running with such great shooting names as Gresham and Brister. It didn’t bother either one a bit, however. They were just nice guys and I remember how Grits took the time to make me feel like I was just “one of the boys.” Don’t know as it helped me break any more targets, but he sure made me feel 10 feet tall. That’s the kind of guy he was.
The NSSF site has a story that I had not heard. It says: “One of Gresham’s proudest moments as an outdoor journalist came during an interview with President Ronald Reagan. The President shared with Grits a story no one in the national media had heard, that when he was a broadcaster in Des Moines, Iowa, Reagan had used a Colt pistol to save a nurse from a mugging on the street.
After the story broke, the nurse came forward and confirmed the tale, although she did not know until then that the young man who had saved her with a gun so many years before had turned out to be the famous actor and United States President.” Somehow, getting a story like that out of Ronald Reagan doesn’t surprise me a bit for Grits. He was truly a southern gentleman that everybody wanted to talk to.
The NSSF site goes on to say that: “At the 2006 SHOT Show, the National Shooting Sports Foundation recognized Gresham with its Lifetime Achievement Award and at that time established, with the Professional Outdoor Media Association, the POMA/NSSF Grits Gresham Communicator Award, the recipient receiving a bronze replica of Gresham’s trademark hat.” Our own Jim Carmichel was honored with this award just a few weeks ago.
Funeral arrangements are being made through the Blanchard St. Denis Funeral Home, at (318) 357-8271, www.blanchardstdenisfuneralhome.com.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to The Gresham Collection at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Foundation, 321 Bienville Street, Natchitoches, LA 71457, or in the name of Grits Gresham to the Alzheimer’s Association.