A large group of area artist, family and friends will gather to celebrate the life of founding member Dr. Eugene Grigsby Jr. of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix. The service will be on October 19th starting at 11 a.m. and is expected to last many hours. The UUCP is located at 4027 East Lincoln Drive in Paradise Valley.
Dr. Eugene Grigsby, joined the church with his wife Tommy. She joined first and was instantly involved in the social justice work the congregation had stated. Gene told this author during an afternoon one summer that he and his wife were drawn to the principles of the Unitarian faith. Gene said that the people in the church had the right idea about inclusion, love of everyone and the inherent worth and dignity of all. It had always just fit the way they both choose to live.
Gene’s wife Tomasena (Tommy) preceded him in death in 2008. Gene told this author that there was not a day that went by that he did not miss her. She was his world, his companion and his favorite model for his art work. Gene’s art expressed the love of family, traditions, justice and the pure magic of expressing his emotions through paint.
Gene lived every day of his life in full color, surrounding himself with passion, love and teaching or should it simply be called mentoring others… to express themselves, their emotions and their opinions on life in the form of pictures. Gene told this author that of all the accolades he had acquired in his lifetime nothing could compare to the joy he felt while teaching art to his students. His best memory of the contributions to the UUCP involves the art program on Saturdays and then filling the walls with the work of his students on Sunday morning. The tradition started by Gene continues to this day with art from congregation members, and other artists around the valley filling the natural stone walls.
Gene was the founder of the Booker T. Washington Development Center and was on the board for many years. All memorial funds should be shared between this organization and that of the Consortium of Black Artists, also a group founded by Dr. Grigsby.
The world will miss this remarkable and generous man and his gifts and legacies will live on through generations. He mentored artists who went on to mentor more artists continuing the legacy well into the future. What a better way to memorialize a great man than to pay it forward, artist to artist, friend to friend and family to family. Dr. Jefferson Eugene Grigsby Jr. lived fully… every precious moment of his remarkable life, and the circle of his giving goes on.