Topanga resident and philanthropist Paul M. Grzymkowski died suddenly on April 1. His wife Joanna Gunst Grzymkowski wrote this tribute to a man many in Topanga loved as a friend, a neighbor and a passionate supporter of local causes.
It is with a shattered heart that I must write about the passing of my beloved Paul M. Grzymkowski who passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on April 1, 2021. He is survived by me, his devoted wife Joanna Gunst Grzymkowski, brother Peter Grzymkowski, and sisters Margaret Halstead, Christine Grzymkowski and Karen Grzymkowski, as well as aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, and his godchildren. Paul and his twin sister Christine were born on March 5, 1949 in Rochester NY to Mary (Jacula) and Peter Grzymkowski.
To give you an idea of the remarkable life Paul led I will share these details:
In April of 1980 Paul moved to Santa Monica, CA to join his brother Pete as one of four managing partners of Gold’s Gym Enterprises, Inc. In his 19-year tenure as President and International Director of Gold’s, Paul redefined the fitness industry by developing the first comprehensive franchising system for facility operations. His efforts contributed to the opening of 535 franchised Gold’s Gym fitness centers in 47 states and 24 countries, with over two million members (by the time they sold the business in 1999).
During his years in the Fitness Industry, Paul developed extensive domestic & global fitness contacts and business experience pouring his whole heart into the work, creating what he called the ‘Gold’s Gym family’. He often hosted franchisees in his home with his fantastic cooking, warm heart and fascinating conversations.
Paul made a positive difference in the lives of almost everyone he touched, and in return his time with Gold’s Gym and all the business colleagues & franchisees he worked with meant the world to him. He really loved and lived Gold’s Gym and was largely responsible for the domestic and international growth of the well-known fitness franchise.
When Gold’s Gym sold in 1999, he became a business/marketing advisor, sat on the boards of three international corporations plus lent his expertise to many businesses in the health and wellness field.
Paul & I met in 1992, we quickly fell in love and in ’96 purchased our home in Topanga Canyon. We were engaged in 2000 and married in 2015. We both felt so much gratitude to have found each other, and that each year together was better than the last.
Paul was a very active and well-loved member of our Topanga community. He had been head usher at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Pacific Palisades, a 4th degree Knight of Columbus and sat on the board of directors of the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum for 12 years.
He volunteered so much of his time with H.O.P.E. (Helping Other People Eat) and many of our local charitable organizations such as CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), Arson Watch, T-CEP (Topanga Coalition for Emergency Preparedness), The Nature of Wildworks (which was especially close to his heart), cooked monthly for the ‘Topanga Sages’ dinner and was seen out cleaning the Boulevard every week with The Topanga Trash Warriors.
He was the driving force behind the annual Horseshoe Dr block parties creating a very loving and supportive environment for the neighbors to come together & enjoy each other, and he was one of the founders & area coordinators of our neighborhood network.
He enjoyed gourmet cooking, ballroom dancing, and international travel. But mostly he enjoyed being home and life we created there. Paul had such a soft heart when it came to animals, he could not stand seeing anyone hungry or sick. He turned our yard into a wildlife sanctuary where all critters were welcome. Coyotes, foxes, squirrels, ravens, misc. birds and even ‘Pepe Le Pew’ (the skunk) often come to visit.
Paul’s warmth, spirit and generous nature were evident in each & every aspect of his life and he will be profoundly missed by the many people who were lucky enough to know him.
I am devastated over his passing… but the outpouring of loving comments and tributes I have received from our wonderful Topanga community is absolutely heartwarming and very healing. Thank you, Topanga, for cradling this amazing man in your strong mountainous arms. He so loved it here.
All my Love,
PS – Hug your loved ones close, because you never know…
Due to the Coronavirus, memorial services are required to be family and closest friends only.
We are planning to air the event on Zoom for people who cannot attend. If you would like the link to this event, please send your email address to Joanna. (see below)
A tribute website is at: www.forevermissed.com/paul-michael-grzymkowski/
If you would like to include your own sentiments or stories about Paul, please do so on the website, or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
In lieu of flowers please send a donation in Paul’s name to the Nature of Wildworks, Lions, Tigers & Bears, Pitbulls & Paroles or the animal rescue organization of your choice.