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Man’s Will Reflects Values Acme Glass Founder Preached Discipline, Bequeaths Millions

Businessman Hank Grinalds, who once proposed building a Space Needle in the Spokane Valley, died Friday, leaving millions of dollars to Spokane clubs, hospitals and schools.

Grinalds, who was 67, died of cancer.

Sources said Grinalds’ will, which has not been made public, establishes endowment funds for Valley Hospital Foundation, the Valley Rotary Club, Northwest Christian School and Whitworth College.

“His intent was to have the (interest) proceeds go to those charities, not the principal,” said Jim Greenup, a member of the Christian school’s board of regents.

“He wants this to go on in perpetuity.”

The will had not been opened Monday, but one source close to Grinalds said the Liberty Lake resident left at least $3 million to local causes. Grinalds’ daughter, Karen Altmeyer of Spokane, could not confirm the amount nor the beneficiaries, but said, “I know they (the funds) were set up.”

Greenup said Grinalds, a high-school dropout, supported the two schools because he was impressed with the education his children and grandchildren received at Northwest Christian. One of his daughters, Barbara Trusant, teaches at the school.

“He felt that much of the fabric and discipline that used to be in the public schools was being taken away,” Greenup said.

Born in Norfolk, Va., Grinalds served in the Army Air Corps during World War II and was stationed for a time at Geiger Field in Spokane.

He returned to Spokane with $8 after his discharge in 1946 and worked for a glass company. In 1959, he formed Acme Glass, a company that eventually employed more than 200 people and had sales of $12 million a year.

Grinalds announced in 1990 he would build a 482-foot tower, modeled after Seattle’s Space Needle, if businesses showed an interest in occupying it.

The tower plan died for lack of interest and because building regulations prohibit buildings more than 60 feet tall in the Valley, in part to protect air traffic to Felts Field Airport.

Grinalds instead built a three-story commercial office building with a glass-enclosed elevator on land along Sprague Avenue.

While president of the Valley Rotary Club in 1975, Grinalds raised more than $30,000 and organized construction of the H.F. Grinalds Rotary Senior Citizens Center.

In recent years, Grinalds gained a reputation as a curmudgeon who spoke in emotional outbursts at public hearings. He fought tax increases, campaigned for Valley incorporation and railed against perceived government excesses.

“A couple of years ago, I went down just for the hell of it to watch the free (government) cheese giveaway,” he told a reporter in 1990. “I saw people getting out of new cars. That’s an abuse.”

He was part of a small group that successfully fought a service charge for the Valley Fire District in 1989. The district briefly ended paramedic services after the proposal failed, borrowing money to bring it back after a 70-year-old woman died while waiting for medical help.

After that election, Grinalds bought newspaper advertisements to fight a special levy for the fire district. He favored laying off some of the district’s staff and cutting firefighters’ wages - or, better yet, letting private companies provide fire protection and other government services.

Grinalds tried to instill his self-help ideals on children, said Greenup. He challenged Northwest Christian students to raise money for an activity center, offering to contribute 50 cents for every $1 they raised without their parents’ or teachers’ help. The challenge cost Grinalds more than $20,000.

The school in February hired a commercial film company to produce an 11-minute video about Grinalds’ life, portraying him as “a patriot, a great American,” said Greenup. The film will be shown to students and potential donors, he said.

Grinalds, whose wife, Thelma, died in 1992, started telling friends several months ago that he was dying. He wrote his own obituary about two months ago.

Grinalds is survived by three daughters, Altmeyer, Trusant and Nancy Mortlock; one son, Randall Grinalds; five granddaughters and five grandsons. He has three surviving sisters, Audrey Hale, Sara Erlandson and Mary Gleason, all of Virginia.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

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