Gerald A. Gruen, 88, of N Lake Street, Port Washington died February 5, 2010 at Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital, Ozaukee Campus in Mequon, Wsconsin.
He was born in 1921 on a farm in Wilton Township, Monroe County, Wisconsin, son of Adolph & Mathilda Schendel Gruen. After graduation from Wilton High School in 1937 he attended Sparta Business College where he learned Gregg shorthand and typing. Employed then as a stenographer at the Wisconsin Senate earning his expenses at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he was awarded a PhD degree in 1947. His studies were interrupted by 3 years of army service in World War II, serving overseas as a commissioned officer in the Philippine Islands training for Plan Olympic the invasion of Japan. When the war ended with the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he spent almost a year in the occupation of Japan.
After post-war employment at Wisconsin Electric in Milwaukee, he became a real estate broker in 1960 and established offices in Glendale and later Port Washington. He served 10 years as alderman and mayor of Glendale prior to moving to the town of Grafton in 1976. His latest projects were the Greenwood Commons and Sylvan Glen condominiums in Port Washington.
He was an early environmentalist and held memberships in Sierra Club, Audubon Society, Wilderness Society, Environmental Defense Fund, Xerces Society, Friends of the Earth, Lake Michigan Federation, Riveredge Nature Center, Ozaukee Land Trust and others. Native trees, plants, wildlife and rocks were his special interests. He introduced Black Walnuts, Oaks, White Pines Spruce and other hardwoods at Willwood, the 20 acre homesite where he resided. He also re-introduced the fringed gentian and other wildflowers, giving many of his plants to friends and family.
He developed an avid interest in poetry and could quote Shakespeare, Robert Burns and other classics. With his wife Shirley kept abreast of contemporary poetry. Stimulated by his son Gerald, Jr., he acquired a succession of vintage and classic cars including Model A Fords, Triumph TR-4, Austin Healey, Jaguar XKE, BMW 325i and others.
He is survived by his wife Shirley (nee Schanen), children Lorelei (Kirk) Hosler, Lorna (Bill) Nagler and Gerald (Jean) Gruen, Jr., and grandchildren Deirdre, Brett and Ty Hosler. Further survived by sister Evelyn (Harold) Anderson, brother Lyle Gruen, other relatives and friends.
According to his wishes, he was buried in a simple pine coffin without embalming and with only family attending the burial. Memorials to the Riveredge Nature Center of WJ Niederkorn Library appreciated.
A walnut tree now several years old
Grows along a neglected public path
Where, surreptitiously, he planted a nut
Progenitor, he hoped, of bountiful harvests
And many descendants
His first of several secrets.
Shrubs of high-bush cranberry
Bloom where he later passed
With seeds in his pockets.
Sticks pushed into moist earth
Begot pussy willows
Spring bouquets and honeybee pollen.
Lately, tiny fringed gentian seeds
Sprinkled where the water seeps
May produce a poet�s inspiration
Or delight a passerby
Who may not know its name, or care.
Who would suspect this eccentric keeper of secrets
Dressed in a business suit
Giver of gifts to unknown beneficiaries?
–Gerald A. Gruen 4/7/05