By David E. Petzal and Phil Bourjaily
After 85 years filled with achievements and honors and a hell of a lot of fun, Grits Gresham passed away on Monday, February 18 at the age of 85. He was a great many things. He was a true all-around outdoorsman. He was a wonderful, and stylish, shotgun shooter. He brought the same grace to that art that Joe DiMaggio brought to center field. He was a personality, and a great story teller, and above all things, a gentleman.
I shared one hunt with him, a two-week safari in Botswana's Kalahari Desert. It took place in October, which is summer below the equator, and I watched him make a 15-mile stalk after a lion walking through sand, with the air temperature 105 degrees, 3,000 feet above sea level, at age 55. Grits found the lion, asleep on its back, with a snout full of porcupine quills, and didn't want to shoot, but the PH pointed out that if the hunt could be concluded safely, it was best to do it that way, so Grits pulled the trigger.
He was born Claude Hamilton Gresham, and I asked him once how he made the transition to Grits. His father, it seems, was a semi-pro baseball player whose nickname was "Grit" Gresham. Young Claude Hamilton eventually was called "Little Grits," and then Grits. It had nothing to do with ground-up cornmeal as far as I know. Ed Zern, wishing to shed more light on the subject, pointed out that Grits spelled backward was Stirg, which did not seem to help matters greatly.
By any name we will miss him. He was a type of man that we do not seem to be producing any more.