08/04/2014 12:45PM

Former DRF columnist Don Grisham dies

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Former DRF chart caller, correspondent, and columnist Don Grisham died on Monday morning at age 84.

Don Grisham, a retired Daily Racing Form chart caller, correspondent, and columnist who later worked publicity for Oaklawn Park, died Monday morning from complications from a stroke, according to his wife, Iris. Grisham was 84.

Grisham suffered a stroke at his Hot Springs, Ark., home March 27 and, after a brief hospital stay, had been based at a rehabilitation center, where he died, said Iris Grisham. Don Grisham was with DRF for about 35 years, joining the organization as a call taker in Ohio in the late 1950s.

“He loved his work,” said Iris Grisham, his wife of 57 years.

Don Grisham was a Hot Springs native who as a child watched Oaklawn’s races through a fence. At about age 12, he had a close encounter with Whirlaway on a visit to the stable area at Oaklawn.

“I was a little apprehensive walking up to the barn because I’d read about him, made scrapbook clippings on his races,” Grisham said in a recent interview with DRF. “I thought, ‘What if [trainer] Ben Jones is too busy? What if he won’t talk to me?’ ”

Jones instead welcomed Grisham and brought him to see Whirlaway, the winner of the Triple Crown in 1941.

“It didn’t get any better than that,” Grisham said. “I was happier meeting him than a movie star.”

Grisham was a graduate of Henderson State University who long covered the Chicago scene for DRF. He also spent time working in Canada and at Oaklawn, among other tracks.

Services are at 1 p.m. Central on Wednesday at Caruth-Hale Funeral Home, 155 Section Line Road, in Hot Springs. A visitation was to be held from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday.