Warren G. Grimes
Raised in an Ohio orphanage, Warren G. Grimes (1898-1975) ran away after finishing the ninth grade and at age 16 went to work for the Ford Motor Company in Detroit. He later became a partner in an electrical business where he was instrumental in designing and developing the first lights for the Ford Tri-Motor airplane. In 1930 Grimes moved to Urbana and founded a small lighting fixture plant, Grimes Manufacturing. The inventor of the familiar red, green, and white navigation lights found on the wing tips and tails of aircraft, Grimes, known as the “Father of the Aircraft Lighting Industry,” also developed other aircraft fixtures, including landing, instrumental, and interior lights. Every American-made airplane flown during World War II was equipped with Grimes lights. Grimes served as mayor of Urbana and chairman of the State of Ohio Aviation Board.