Remembering Senior Director of National Development William Grimberg

Photo of William Grimberg
William C. Grimberg

Case Western Reserve development leader William C. Grimberg died Tuesday after several months of bravely enduring illness. Visiting hours begin this afternoon for the 70-year-old father of four and grandfather of nine, whose career spanned Cleveland’s arts, education and health care communities.

“Bill was one of those people who always greeted others with a smile,” said Senior Vice President for University Relations and Development Bruce Loessin, “and left them feeling inspired by his pure joy in life.”

Grimberg joined the university in 2012, soon after the public launch of its then-$1 billion Forward Thinking capital campaign. He served as its associate director as the effort expanded to $1.5 billion two years later. He later became director of national development at the Weatherhead School of Management, where he had earned a certificate in advanced management decades earlier.

Grimberg’s prior professional positions included seven years as chair of institutional advancement at Cleveland Clinic, where he led the hospital system’s first fundraising campaign—one that finished a year early and surpassed its goal by $32 million. He also led Playhouse Square’s first capital campaign in the 1980s; that successful fundraising effort restored the Ohio, State and Palace theaters. Later that decade, he joined Cleveland Tomorrow in an effort to rebrand Cleveland as “the Comeback City.”

Grimberg also was an active board member at multiple organizations, including the Center for Learning and Education in Cleveland and the Positive Education Program (PEP).

Earlier this year, a committee of Grimberg’s local peers selected him as the 2019 recipient of the Greater Cleveland Partnership’s Richard A. Shatten Professional Leadership Award, which honors individuals for their long-term contributions to the nonprofit sector. 

As the award letter to him explained: “Your clear passion for Northeastern Ohio and a desire to teach and nurture others in the skills to successfully lead public-private partnerships has always risen to the top in all of your activities.”

Added Loessin: “His warmth and enthusiasm moved people to contribute their talents and resources to organizations ranging from Playhouse Square to Cleveland Tomorrow, Cleveland Clinic to Case Western Reserve. Our entire region is better for his efforts, and we will miss him very much.”

As extensive as his professional involvement was, those who knew Grimberg will remember him most for his dedication to his family, including his wife of 45 years, Susan; children Brian (Kerry), Kate (Greg) Napolitan, Ann Marie (Joel Moyer) and Joe (Beth); and nine grandchildren.

One of the pleasures of Bill’s time at the university was the opportunity to work on the same campus as his son Brian, a faculty member at the School of Medicine whose work on infectious diseases has drawn wide attention.

Visitation will be today (March 7) from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. at Chambers Funeral Home (29150 Lorain Road, North Olmsted). A funeral mass at St. Colman Church (2027 W. 65th St., Cleveland) will begin at 11 a.m. Friday, March 8.

In lieu of flowers, the Grimberg family asks donations be made in his memory to PEP Cleveland (3100 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, OH 44115), the Alzheimer’s Association (P.O. Box 74924, Cleveland, OH 44194), or Magnificat High School (20770 Hilliard Blvd., Rocky River, OH 44116).