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Two die fixing Jeanne damage

The deaths of two Pinellas County men who fell while working on roofs this week have been classified as hurricane-related fatalities.

David Grimm, 79, of Palm Harbor, fell about 12 feet onto his pool deck around 5 p.m. Monday, said Bill Pellan, director of investigations for the Pasco-Pinellas Medical Examiner's Office. Grimm was Pinellas County's first death from any of the storms that have hit the state this year.

Ryan Wellmann, 22, of Largo, was working atop a Subway restaurant in Pasco County when he fell about 1:15 p.m. Tuesday, Pellan said.

Both men were flown to Bayfront Medical Center and later pronounced dead.

Because they were repairing roofs damaged by Hurricane Jeanne, each is considered a casualty of the storm. The Medical Examiner's Office reported the deaths to state officials, who have counted them as the ninth and 10th deaths in Florida to be attributed to Jeanne.

In all, Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne are blamed for more than 100 storm-related deaths in Florida.

David Grimm

David Grimm started out as a Midwestern farmer and made his way from small-town politics to big-league work in advertising and finance.

He fell from the roof while working on his gutters, family members said.

"He was a teacher by example, a man who saw things and did them," said his son, Steve Grimm, 54. "That was kind of his shortcoming. He went up and tried to clean up after the storm instead of waiting. He had to go up and do it himself."

Whether he was organizing cultural exchanges for the Suncoast chapter of Friendship Force, supporting the Republican Party or protesting the extension of Belcher Road near his home, Grimm made sure his voice was heard, loud and clear.

"He had that talent, and people would listen," Steve Grimm said.

Grimm came to Florida as a stockbroker 25 years ago. He had worked as a farmer, an advertising man and a teacher, family members said, and he was always active in local politics.

In the 1960s, he was mayor of Wind Point, Wis., and once ran for Congress in that state.

Kenneth Dean, president of the Suncoast chapter of Friendship Force, said Grimm helped found the local chapter 16 years ago and helped with publicity. The international organization arranges cultural exchange visits to other countries for its members.

Grimm participated in exchanges in 10 countries, including New Zealand, Turkey and Thailand, with his wife, Vivian. They also hosted numerous visitors from around the globe as part of the program.

"He always wanted to know about other cultures," Steve Grimm said. "Even when I was a little kid, he would open his house to exchange students from France and Belgium."

An avid reader, Grimm volunteered for nine years at the Palm Harbor Library and had written about 700 pages of a novel about Canadian homesteaders before he died. An amateur musician who had studied at the Juilliard School for six months, he led the singing of Let There Be Peace on Earth at Friendship Force meetings.

"He said if he could be born again, he would like to be half Michener and half Pavarotti," said Vivian Grimm, 77.

Visitation for David Grimm will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at Curlew Hills Funeral Home, 1717 Curlew Road, Palm Harbor. A memorial service will be held there at 10:45 a.m. Saturday.

Ryan Wellmann

Ryan Thomas Wellmann, 22, worked as a maintenance man for several Subway restaurants in Pinellas and Pasco counties.

On Tuesday afternoon, he was on the roof of a Subway at 4218 U.S. 19 in New Port Richey making repairs. About 1:15 p.m., he leaned on some decorative trim and fell.

His father, Tony Wellmann, who works as a maintenance supervisor for the restaurants, was on the ground. He had his back to the building, but heard his son fall. He landed in the drive-through after falling about 12 feet.

Tony Wellmann said he rushed to his son's side. Blood came from his ears, nose and mouth. He wasn't breathing at first, but began shallow breathing. Tony Wellmann put his hand under his son's head and called 911.

"I had 911 in one hand and his head in the other," he said. "One second he was there and the next second he was gone."

Ryan Wellmann was taken by helicopter to Bayfront Medical Center, where he died about 8:15 p.m.

"He never regained consciousness," his father said.

Tony Wellmann, 57, said his son was one of eight children in the family, which moved to Florida from New Jersey about six years ago. He regularly attended Bible Baptist Church in Pinellas Park. He had just bought a car and was going to Pinellas Technical Education Center to get his GED.

"Everything was going for him and then God decided he would rather have him up in heaven with him," his father said. "And we have strong faith that we'll see him again one day."

Tony Wellmann said his son lived with him and his wife, Gayle, in their mobile home in Largo. The family was grateful the area was spared the worst of the hurricanes this year, but thought of others in the state who fared worse.

"We feel bad for others who have suffered in this hurricane and have suffered in this state," Tony Wellmann said. "And now it's happened to us."

He said his son was a hard worker who enjoyed fixing things and helping people, traits that led him onto the Subway roof.

"He's really missed," his father said. "This is hard. He was my work partner, he was my best friend, he was my son. He was the kind of kid that everybody wished they had."

Visitation for Ryan Wellmann will be 7 to 9 p.m. today at Memorial Park Funeral Home, 5750 49th St. N, St. Petersburg. A funeral service will be at 10 a.m. Friday at Bible Baptist Church, 4090 78th Ave. N, Pinellas Park.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the church's building fund.

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