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Former Ensign Aide Dies: ‘Loved’ His Senate Work

Col. D’Arcy Grisier served 27 years in the Marines, fathered three children and beat myriad medical conditions before succumbing to myelodysplastic syndrome and chronic renal failure on Nov. 2. Up until last month, he was the military legislative assistant for Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), a position he held for three years.

“He loved his country, loved his job, loved the Corps,” said Sean Grisier, one of the colonel’s three children. “He loved, loved, loved his work in the Senate.”

He was known to family and Senate colleagues as “Col. D” or just “D,” and those who knew him were awed by his seemingly Herculean strength. An avid marathon runner, Grisier fought cancer for nine years — and eventually beat it — lost an appendix and both kidneys, endured a kidney transplant, beat a rare blood condition, was on dialysis for three years and served three tours of duty abroad before his passing at age 52.

After spending a month there with inexplicable fevers and chills, Col. D was supposed to come home from the University of Maryland Medical Center the day of his passing. The diagnosis of MDS and renal failure did not come until after he died.

He refused medical discharge after his bout with cancer, and when he was finally relieved of his military duties with 100 percent medical disability, it was a “huge blow,” said Dan O’Lone, Col. D’s best friend of 26 years.

O’Lone donated a kidney for Grisier’s transplant 13 months ago. The transplant allowed the colonel to avoid dialysis treatment, which took up five to six hours three days per week, said O’Lone. It also enabled him to do “any of the other things he was going to need to do to stay healthy,” such as receive treatments for other medical problems.

It also allowed him to perform his job in the Senate to the best of his ability.

O’Lone recalled how happy Col. D was to be able to travel with Ensign and travel to see his children and grandchildren in Texas — things that were impossible while on dialysis.

“A husband, father and Marine, D served on my staff for five years and touched the lives of so many Nevadans through his work. In the face of incredible adversity, D always kept a positive outlook,” Ensign said.

Communications Director Tory Mazzola echoed the Senator’s sentiments.[IMGCAP(1)]

“The word ‘great American’ is said a lot on Capitol Hill. Those two words do not describe a man more appropriately than Col. D,” he said.

Grisier transferred out of Ensign’s office after the Senator left the Armed Services Committee and moved on to the Finance Committee. He was to become deputy undersecretary of Defense for budget and appropriations affairs.

Roberta Grisier said her one goal during his most recent monthlong hospital stay was to help her husband recover so he could “just spend one day at this new job.”

“He loved to work,” she said.

Col. D served a variety of positions in the Marine Corps, most recently as director of assistance and investigations in the Office of the Inspector General. He was also an executive in the office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a battalion commander in the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego.

He is a graduate of the National War College, the University of Arkansas and Virginia Commonwealth University. Part of the National Security Study Group in the Senate, he was also a member of the Military Officers Association of America and the Disabled American Veterans.

He is survived by his wife, Roberta; children, Darcy, 21, Kelly, 22, and Sean, 35; and grandchildren, Blake, 13, Brent, 12, Caleb, 6, and Tanner, 2.

Viewings will be held at Pumphrey Funeral Home in Rockville, Md., on Wednesday from 3 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. An official service and burial is tentatively scheduled at Fort Myer Memorial Chapel in Arlington, Va., and Arlington National Cemetery on Jan. 17 at 11 a.m.

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