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President’s great-uncle, ‘Buddy’ Grisham, dies at 92

June 24, 1997

HOPE, Ark. (AP) _ President Clinton’s great-uncle ``Buddy″ Grisham, whom he often lauded in speeches as a major influence on his life, has died at 92.

The president often visited Henry Oren Grisham, a former fireman and doughnut shop owner, when he visited Hope, his birthplace.

Grisham had been in poor health for some time. He died about 8 p.m. Monday at Heather Manor North Nursing Home in Hope.

He was Clinton’s maternal grandmother’s brother.

``He’s 90 years old and he’s had a wonderful life,″ Clinton said in 1995 after spending more than an hour and a half visiting Grisham at a hospital. ``We had a terrific conversation. He’s very important to me. I’m not sure I’d be here today if it wasn’t for him.″

When running for president in 1992, Clinton would often invoke Grisham when talking on the stump about the greatest influences in his life.

``My great-uncle was a real important part of my early life,″ Clinton said in 1992 after a teary-eyed Grisham gave him a family Bible in a wrinkled brown-paper bag.

Grisham’s 68-year-old son, Conrad, said his father was about the only close relative the president had left outside his immediate family.

Young Clinton, whose father had died before he was born, was raised for a time by his grandmother while his mother was out of town getting job training. Conrad Grisham said his father played a lot with the toddler and spurred him on later in life when he got down.

He recalled a meeting after Clinton was defeated in 1980 in his bid for a second two-year term as Arkansas governor.

``He came down to see my Daddy and I heard him talking. He was disappointed about getting defeated,″ Conrad Grisham said. ``My Daddy said, `Just jump right back in and run again. Just go like it never happened and run again.′ And he did and he won.″

Clinton won a second term as governor in 1982 and kept being re-elected until his presidential victory in 1992.

Conrad Grisham said Clinton and his mother, who died in 1994, were the only two people who called his father ``Buddy.″

The funeral was set for Thursday. There was no immediate word on whether the president would attend.

Besides his son Conrad, who lives in Hope, Grishim is survived by a second son, Duane Grisham of Belle Air Beach, Fla., and two daughters, Falba Lively and Myra Irvin, both of Hope.

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