A fifth-generation Floridian, still living on the same piece of property that she grew up on in Zolfo Springs, Denise Grimsley knows a thing or two about ‘Flo-Grown.’ Grimsley experienced a different childhood than most: her family’s land included a 350-acre citrus grove, 100-acres of cattle, she learned to drive on a dirt road, and there were no neighbors to speak of. When her dad fell ill, she returned from her job as a registered nurse to take care of the family oil business, all while attending business school at nights and on the weekend. Her time in the Florida Senate has led her to running for Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture.
Denise is fluent in Floridian. Her biggest role model is also a Floridian, although he’s never held office or played for an NFL team. Denise says, “there will never be a statute after him, and that’s my dad, who has served as one of my best friends and my mentor, who’s taught me a lot about faith. He taught me about hard work. As I think back over my childhood, watching him and my mom sit at the kitchen table and try to figure out how to make ends meet when the’re starting their business, which they started in 1967, he’s taught me so much. And still, I still go to him for advice. I didn’t get into this race without talking to him first.”
Her first job was as a candy-striper in her local hospital, so Denise was especially proud to return to the same hospital after 40 years as hospital administrator. Five years after returning as hospital administrator, a new facility was built and Hardee County saw a major upgrade in their health care network.