Cover photo for Rev. Ethel K. Grinkley's Obituary
Rev. Ethel K. Grinkley Profile Photo
Rev. Ethel

Rev. Ethel K. Grinkley

d. February 21, 2023

Reverend Ethel K. Grinkley of Florence, South Carolina finished her earthly walk and stepped into the sunset of life on February 21, 2023,. She was a supporter, advocate and the very embodiment of strength and perseverance. Reverend Grinkley held a Bachelor’s degree in English from Johnson C. Smith University - Charlotte, North Carolina and Master’s degree in Guidance from Francis Marion University – Florence, South Carolina.

Bible teaching and preaching, writing poetry, reading and working with families were her passions. Her favorite scripture was Psalm 27:4, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in His temple.” Above all that God allowed her to be and to do, Rev. Grinkley was most appreciative that God allowed her to be His child!

Reverend Grinkley was licensed to preach in 1999 and ordained in 2005. She served on the Ministerial Staff at Friendship Baptist in Darlington, Associate Pastor at Mustard Seed Baptist Church in Bishopville, Darlington Ministerial Alliance and Board Member of Cultural Realism Center.

In June 2016 she retired from a successful 40-year career in public school teaching and administration serving as teacher of English and English as Second Language and Coordinator of Title 1 Curriculum, Parent Involvement, Drug-Free Schools, and Character Education programming in her hometown of Darlington, South Carolina.  At the County and State level she sat on many advisory boards for Juvenile Drug Court, Character Council/Character Development Partnership, and South Carolina State Family & Community Engagement Cross-Divisional team. Reverend Grinkley was a member of the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority and a published poet.

In a similar fashion to her education and career, she put her heart and soul into ministry. She worked tirelessly with the Spiritual Life Ministry and Darlington Area Ministerial Association SC, Pee Dee Baptist Association’s Women’s Department, and Intercessory Prayer Committee Kingdom Vision Ministry Women’s Conference.  Rev. Grinkley started a Tuesday morning prayer line and in 2019 during COVID she founded “The Place” that continues to meet virtually on Thursday mornings.

Reverend Grinkley loved traveling. Her vacation dream was to dip her toes in the Caribbean Ocean and watch the mountains which she was able to do on numerous vacations.  While on vacation she could spend hours watching cruise ships dock and set sail. Family, friends and the community would often request her poetry for special occasions, and she never refused. Leaving her home early to pick up youth for church utilizing her own funds and car was a regular for Rev. Grinkley. Family and friends appreciated her wisdom, prayers and support. Rev. Grinkley’s love for people and her community was evidenced by the fruit of the spirit she displayed daily.  Unbeknownst to many she had a beautiful operatic voice that she used at home while cleaning, doing daily chores, and when her spirit was full.

Reverend Grinkley was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Minister Steve Grinkley; two sisters, Mary Lunn and Louiza (Reverend Willie) Lee; and one brother, George Kelly.

Those left to cherish her memory and celebrate her life include her two sons, Joey K. Grinkley (Todd A. Shamy) of Reading, Pennsylvania and Stephen I. Grinkley of Florence, South Carolina; one brother, Eugene Kelly of New Haven, Connecticut; two sisters, Irene Milling (Reverend Cleve Milling) of Florence, South Carolina and Anna Johnson of Columbia, South Carolina as well as a host of sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.


In lieu of flowers, please give to create a Reverend Ethel K. Grinkley “The Place” Charitable Organization. 

Reverend Grinkley’s love of God, life, family, friends uplifted and inspired everyone around her. This GoFundMe is to support a charitable organization to continue her works in the community and to establish a scholarship in her honor.  Please give. God bless! 

The family will receive friends daily from 3 PM - 7 PM at 2154 Woodmore Circle, Florence

Please keep the family of Reverend Ethel K. Grinkley in your thoughts and prayers.


To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Rev. Ethel K. Grinkley, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Saturday, February 25, 2023

1:00 - 3:00 pm (Eastern time)

Smith's Funeral Home-Florence

307 S Johns St, Florence, SC 29506

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Family Visitation & Zeta Phi Beta Rites

Saturday, February 25, 2023

3:00 - 5:00 pm (Eastern time)

Smith's Funeral Home-Florence

307 S Johns St, Florence, SC 29506

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Funeral Service

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Starts at 3:00 pm (Eastern time)

Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church

400 S Main St, Darlington, SC 29532

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Monday, February 27, 2023

10:00 - 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Mount Hope Cemetery & Mausoleum

100 Cherokee Rd, Florence, SC 29501

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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