The Christmas spirit was shattered on Dec. 26 when we learned that Roxbury and Vineyard entrepreneur Calvin (Kern) Grimes lost his battle with cancer.

He was born to Marguerite and Cal Grimes Sr. in 1940, the same year that his father founded Grimes Oil Company. After finishing high school, he joined the expanding family business. His father added a second truck to the fleet and young Kern got behind the wheel, learning the business from top to bottom.

In 1969 he was named president and chief executive officer and led the company’s transition from a residential oil supplier to providing energy products to major corporations. Opening offices in New York city, Newark, San Francisco and Miami, the family business was headquartered on Norfolk street in Dorchester, where there was a large fleet of trucks, drivers and a full staff managing the business. Grimes Oil appeared on the Black Enterprise list of top black-owned businesses in 1979 and they were number nine in the nation with revenues at $30 million dollars.

As technology began to dominate the business and he divested the residential sector in favor of corporate and institutional accounts, Kern was able to run his business from the Vineyard. He started out on Dukes County Road before moving closer to the airport.

Kern was always a bigger-than-life personality. He was a balance of all business (like his father) and displayed an outgoing personality (like his mother). His dress was impeccable, stylish and fashion forward: leather pants, ostrich boots, professional entertainment suits, hats and, yes, a full-length fur coat. If Mr. Sid sold it, Kern bought it.

He loved cars and maintained an eclectic collection that included a sports Mercedes, a Jaguar, an Audi and several sport utility vehicles. His prize vehicle was his father’s 1940 red pick-up truck, reminiscent of the humble origins of the business.

Decades ago, I had the pleasure of attending several Super Bowls with Kern and his dear friends George Cramer of Boston and Tim Crawford of Philadelphia. Kern hosted his national clients in the skyboxes and spared no expense. His business clients appreciated the service from the company but they also enjoyed their friendships with Kern.

The Vineyard was his playground, given that he was a natural connector to everybody regarding everything. He made friends easily and laughed easily. If you need a contractor, you need to set up an account at a store, you needed lamb chops for your dinner party, you need a real estate broker, or a reference on someone, Kern could not be more helpful. If you needed to get a car reservation on the steamship, you just called Kern. He had friends all over the country who appreciated his hospitality, personality and his family business legacy.

Calvin Grimes was clearly the bon vivant of his generation! He will be missed for a long time with personal traits that we will never see again. Next October, when we enjoy the Indigenous People’s Saturday picnic at the Inkwell to reminisce about the summer season, we must have champagne to toast our dear friend Kern, the maverick entrepreneur.

Love, gratitude and memories will shower Cheryl Grimes and his children Darlene, Lori, Mitchell, Ashley and especially Trevor, who has been by his side throughout his battle with disease.

Paradise on earth is living the Vineyard experience. Enjoy it as life is fleeting!