Sunday evening, a large fire burned a multiple story barn in Willington completely to the ground. It was the home of University of Connecticut Dining Services’ employee, Marty Grimason.
Grimason is well known as the witty and selfless Kosher Chef at Gelfenbien Commons, and can often be seen joining students for meals, sharing stories and helping anyone with any problem they might be having, said a first employee, who wished to remain anonymous.
“Marty’s the kind of guy that will befriend anyone, no matter who you are. Anytime you’re having a bad day, he’ll make jokes or something to pick you right back up off your feet. He goes out of his way for anybody really. He can do anything for anybody in a heartbeat,” said a second employee, who wished to remain anonymous.
The fire, cause undetermined (though spreading of the fire might be linked to stacks of hay in the lower level), required fire crews from Willington, Tolland, Mansfield and Ashford, including additional tankers from Stafford and Ellington, according to The Hartford Courant.
The lower floor of the home housed cows, sheep, chickens and cats. The upper floor was furnished with custom woodwork. Grimason had built the entire house by hand, and the fire took the entire house, his belongings, his chickens, and one cat – leaving him with nothing but the clothes on his back.
“He built that house from scratch. He built custom-made cabinets, he did everything the way he wanted it. His whole life was invested into it,” the second employee said.
Grimason had also taken Monday off of work in anticipation of celebrating his 50th birthday, the first employee said.
A GoFundMe page was created in Grimason’s honor, with a goal set at $8,000. According to the page, $2,533 was raised by 83 people in one day, with the number steadily rising. Donations can be made at http://www.gofundme.com/marty-com.
Managers at Gelfenbien Commons have also set up a donation fund in Grimason’s name, accepting monetary, clothing, toiletries and cards for well wishes. Donations can be dropped off in the office in Gelfenbien, said a third employee, who wished to remain anonymous.
All sources wished to remain anonymous because there are further plans for Grimason that are to remain a surprise to him. He is a very humble man and the employees wanted to conceal their identities in order to continue their plans uninterrupted, the second and third employees said.
“He’s got a lot of pride, so a lot of what we’re doing is a surprise, because he’s not one to ask for help,” the third employee said.
“If we told him, he would be like, ‘I don’t want you guys to do this for me.’ But if you knew Marty like we do, you would do it,” the second employee said.