MAYS LANDING – On April 21, 2020, members of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office lost a colleague, law enforcement family member and a friend when longtime ACPO Support Employee Little Grier, 56, of Mays Landing died after he was involved in a three car motor vehicle crash on Harding Highway in Mays Landing.
Grier, who was also called Jeff, was a husband, a father, a grandfather and beloved member of the ACPO agency family. He was hired at the ACPO on July 14, 2008 and he is credited by the ACPO team for keeping the agency’s building running and always putting smiles on the faces of everyone he encountered. Jeff’s positivity was infectious no matter what and all he had to do was smile to make you feel good.
Anyone that asked Jeff how he was, the answer was always the same and with a flash of his signature smile.
“I’m phenomenal!” Jeff would always exclaim and without hesitation. And Jeff was sincere when he said that he was phenomenal and there was no questioning it.
“Jeff had an incredible spirit about him. Every time I spoke with him, I left the conversation feeling positive. He touched so many people just through his kindness, and for that, we are all fortunate to have called him our friend,” said Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner.
For ACPO Chief of County Investigators Bruce K. DeShields his friendship with Jeff touched on everything from football to fashion to music, but always with a smile. Chief DeShields said he knew Jeff since he started at the ACPO in July 2008. Chief DeShields said Jeff always seemed positive no matter what was going on behind the scenes.
“But what I will miss the most are our conversations. We talked about the Eagles, shoes, music and hats. How a man is judged by his sense of style. Jeff had a love for being stylish. Sundays were made for “Hats” and “Gators”, nothing like a classy hat and a sharp pair of shoes,” Chief DeShields said.
During football season the pair exchanged text messages back and forth while the Philadelphia Eagles were playing on the field.
“But the real shame is that Jeff’s love of music was cut short. We would talk about his music dream and how it was starting to move forward. The love he had for the people who were working that dream with them. We joked about how once he made it big, I would retire and be his personal security,” Chief DeShields said.
Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor Mario Formica had a special bond and friendship with Jeff and he calls him the most spiritual man he has ever met.
Jeff touched so many lives at the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office and Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor Formica said he is blessed that his life was one of them.
“Jeff and I talked about our lives, our successes and yes, mostly our failures. Jeff always reminded me, as he had to remind himself, that missteps along the way do not disqualify us from our responsibility to still do good, to still help others, and to still love our fellow human beings,” Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor Mario Formica recalled.
Another strong connection was shared between Jeff and ACPO Sgt. Tracey Thompson. Sgt. Thompson said that Jeff’s untimely passing has forever left a void in the hearts of many. Sgt. Thompson said that the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office has lost a friend, life coach, and family member, but that he can hear Jeff still encouraging everyone to keep pressing forward until we meet again.
“Little Jeffery Grier, “aka Bishop”, was a dear friend and compassionate soul! I remember first meeting Jeff, and there being an instant connection. Jeff was best known for his ability to change the atmosphere wherever he found himself. His constant pleasant disposition and encouraging nature was a great complement to this Office and its members. As been recalled by many, one his catch phrases was, “I’m phenomenal”, which would cause anyone to pep up no matter how they felt before encountering him,” Sgt. Thompson said.
ACPO County Investigator Chris Popper said that Jeff taught him many things, but the most important lesson that he learned was from Jeff’s approach to life. Jeff understood that it was not about the circumstances he was dealing with that mattered, but the outlook on those circumstances, Investigator Popper said.
Investigator Popper said that when he learned of Jeff’s passing, he was devastated like so many others. And then the e-mails started to pour in from co-workers who wanted to take the time to express what Jeff meant to them.
“It became apparent that Jeff impacted so many lives and that he lives on by his legacy. Despite what he was going through, Jeff made it a priority to ask how you were and consoled you if you were upset. If I had to describe Jeff with any other word besides phenomenal, I would say selfless,” Investigator Popper said.
“When asked how he was, you could be certain Jeff would respond, “Phenomenal!” Initially, I thought to myself, how could this man always be in such a good mood and is everything is his life really that great? However, as our friendship grew, I learned that Jeff had been through so much. Therefore, the fact he could even smile was phenomenal in itself,” Investigator Popper said.
As a result, Jeff was phenomenal, because his outlook on life was phenomenal; he understood that it was truly a gift to wake up every morning. Therefore, it was exceedingly and unbelievably great to be alive, Investigator Popper said.
“For all of the people who had the honor of knowing Jeff, please know he would not want you to be upset. Instead he would want you to continue his legacy of being phenomenal,” Investigator Popper said.