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Businessman, civic leader Grissom dies

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By Chris Edwards
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Lonnie GrissomWOODVILLE – Lonnie Bee Grissom, Jr., a Tyler County native and businessman, died last week at the age of 63.

Grissom died on Tuesday, Feb. 27. He was an entrepreneur in the timber industry and made his mark on the community with his North American Procurement Company (NAPCO), of which he served as owner and president. The company, his obituary noted, created jobs and opportunities for many individuals, and Grissom “always had a heart for the people of Tyler County.”

Former Woodville mayor Jimmie Cooley said Grissom was “always working on a deal for Tyler County,” and added that she will miss him and his phone calls.

He prided himself in being a lifelong resident of the county, save for four years he was away for his service in the Army.

Grissom, who was born in Woodville, and graduated from Kirby High School in 1979, grew up with the timber industry around him. His father, Lonnie Grissom, Sr., was a wood dealer for Temple Eastex, and his grandfather, Otis, also worked in the business.

He was stationed in Germany during the Cold War years for his military service. “My oldest daughter was born in Germany. This was the only time I have lived outside of Woodville,” Grissom said in an interview in 2013 for Discover Tyler County.

Following his Army stint, Grissom moved back to his hometown and worked at an electric motor shop, which he later bought. He also worked on logging crews, and, eventually, he and the late Buddy Wilkinson launched G&W Enterprises, in 1986. The two men were business partners for more than 20 years.

Grissom, through the years, owned eight different logging-based businesses in Tyler County. He started NAPCO in 2003.

As a community leader, Grissom supported many causes, and served on several boards, including the Rotary Club of Woodville, of which he served a stint as president; he served on the Woodville ISD Board of Trustees and as a director for the Lower Neches Valley Authority. He also served on the board of the Texas Forestry Association.

Grissom was active on social media where he dispensed wisdom and occasional photographs of the scenery from his Golden Pine Ranch, located in the Harmony community. He often expressed concern over the future of the county’s economic sustainability.

“I am disappointed that young people are having to move away from [Tyler County] to find work,” he said in the aforementioned interview.

In tributes posted to social media, other community leaders remembered him. Former Pct. 1 Commissioner Martin Nash said “I will miss you, my friend. Folks will never know all you did or tried to do for the people of Tyler County.”

Lonnie Hunt, who serves as the executive director for the Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG) said he was sorry to hear of Grissom’s passing and added “he will be greatly missed.”

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