The Grisdales: Military service inspired endowed fund for veterans ‣ Laurel Ridge Community College
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The Grisdales: Military service inspired endowed fund for veterans

Ernie and Ann today
Ernie and Ann Grisdale met in the Army more than 50 years ago.

As a retired Laurel Ridge chemistry professor and a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, Ernie Grisdale wanted a way to help student veterans who needed a little extra support.

That’s why he and his wife, Ann, also a retired lieutenant colonel, and their four children established the Grisdale Family Veterans Fund, which supports an Outstanding Veteran Student award at commencement each year, as well as emergency assistance funds for student veterans.

Ernie, who grew up in Royal Oak, Mich., just outside of Detroit, attended Eastern Michigan University and received a two-year ROTC scholarship. He earned degrees in math and chemistry, with a minor in physics.

His wife, who was from Woodstock, attended East Carolina University.

“I stumbled across this program at the college,” she said. “They paid for my senior year in college, and then I had a commitment to serve, active-duty commitment. While on active duty, I met this guy a week later.”

“You were eyeing me,” Ernie joked.

Ann joked back, “I think it’s going to stick. I’m not sure.”

The couple have been married for 52 years. Ernie remained in the Army for 20 years, and Ann for 29, the final 15 years in the reserve, which she entered while they were on joint assignment in Germany. She would go on to teach U.S. soldiers in Germany through Big Bend Community College.

Ernie did one tour in Vietnam where he served as a mortar platoon leader and a battalion S-2, which is an intelligence officer. Ann was called up during Operation Desert Storm, and served in Washington, D.C.

The Grisdales had been living in Washington, D.C., when Ernie retired. During his last two years on active duty, he taught as an adjunct chemistry professor at the Manassas campus of Northern Virginia Community College. Wanting to return to Ann’s hometown, he inquired about a job at Laurel Ridge. Ernie, who has a master’s degree in organic chemistry from Georgia Tech, taught at the college between 1988 and 2019.
Three of the four Grisdale children followed their parents’ footsteps into the Army, and all are combat veterans – Katherine (Iraq), Aaron (Iraq) and David (Afghanistan). Aaron Grisdale is now the Woodstock town manager, Katherine Klus teaches at Massanutten Regional Governor’s School and David Grisdale continues to serve on active duty in the Army. Their fourth child, Leah Boyle, is an artist.

The whole family continues to contribute to the endowment.

“It’s one of the Christmas gifts the kids will give us,” Ernie said.

His wife added, “They’re all very supportive of this.”

“We just felt that this was a good way to support the young people who have a military background and are now trying to get their education,” Ernie said. “The military is not an easy life. It can be very difficult for enlisted personnel.”

The family is provided potential award candidates from which they select the scholarship recipient. Ann recalled meeting one of the award recipients.

“She really had such a need, and the money was able to keep things going for her,” she said.

Currently, the Outstanding Veteran Award recipient gets $500, but Ernie said he hopes it will be increased to $1,000.

“When Ann and I were in college, we had to struggle through financially,” he said. “We know what it’s like. It’s just nice to know the money is helping people who sacrificed so much for our country.”

Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.