Grillo lights up THS office

Published 2:52 pm Friday, February 3, 2012

By SANDRA THAMES / Community Columnist

The office staff at Thompson High School has long been known for their friendliness. The office is full of smiling, helpful folks and a family environment. Diane West Grillo, the clerk-secretary for more than 15 years (other office titles held in past years) is one of those smiling and knowledgeable folks.

“Our office is like a big family — whether one has a problem or a joy — we share,” she said.

Grillo (Contributed)

Born in Atlanta but raised in Homewood, Grillo attended the old Shades Valley High School and then went to the University of Alabama. Her work desk proudly displays a strong “Roll Tide” presence.

Thirty-eight years ago, she was working at The Birmingham News when Tom Grillo came in to install computer equipment. She remembers giving him a difficult time about something — guess he liked it because one-and-a-half years later they were married and moved near his family in New Jersey.

“Not only did I move into the cold Northeast, but married into a wonderful Italian family. Tom had to translate what I said and I thought macaroni and spaghetti were the only types of pasta,” she said.

This year, her husband, Tom, retired from The Birmingham News after 33 years as the production director. This may also be Diane’s time to retire. Traveling, a Mediterranean cruise and more time with their grandsons are on their agenda. Their son, Tony, and his wife (local girl Misty Martin) have two sons: Parker, 11, and Peyton, 5. Diane Grillo’s son, Brian, and his wife Kelley Askew (The University of Alabama softball) also have two sons: Luke, 6, and Carter, 3.

“The Grillos don’t allow girls,” quipped Diane.

Many people remember Grillo from her many years as PTO president at TES, TMS and then THS. When her boys left, she forgot to leave.

Having lived in Highland Lakes for several years now, Grillo admits her deep love for the Alabaster area and her Thompson Warriors and still misses the awesome sermons of Les Hughes at Westwood Baptist. “It’s home,” she said.

An avid reader, Grillo also loves to garden, loves most any music but rap and loves the Christmas season with all the smells and memories attached.

“Speaking of memories, after nearly five years, I miss my precious mother who passed away with Alzheimer’s but is now in heaven dancing with my father,” Diane Grillo said.

Community columnist Sandra Thames can be reached by email at