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“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” ~Thomas Campbell

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“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” ~Thomas Campbell

gruening, mel obit

gruening, mel air force

Melvin (Arnold) Gruening, 88 of Rothschild, passed away peacefully at his home on November 20, 2017.

Mel was born December 15, 1928 in the city of Schofield, WI; one of five brothers born to Art and Stella Gruening. He grew up learning the value of hard work and frugality, traits which served him admirably his entire life. Mel attended Wausau East High School, graduating in 1947. He joined the United States Air Force during the Korean War and was a radio teletype operator in Cheyenne, WY in 1949. He was also stationed in Newfoundland and Bermuda. He was honorably discharged as a Sargent.

He married Carol Gruening in 1953 at St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Schofield. They were married for 24 years. While Mel was married to Carol, they had a foster home for eight teenage girls for 10 years. In 1982, Mel married Cherol (Reetz) Schumacher. They were married at St. Peter’s and enjoyed 18 years together until Cherol passed away in 1998. In 1999, he married Beverly Ahrensdorf. They were also married at St. Peter’s. Mel often joked about having married three women – all at St. Peter’s by three different ministers.

Mel worked for Ligno Tech for 43 years in the chemical plant and in the office in Rothschild. He retired when he turned 65.

Mel and Bev enjoyed their summer home in Lake Tomahawk for many years. They truly enjoyed their good friends in the park and always had good times playing cribbage with them.

After retirement, Mel’s service in the Air Force was recently recognized when he participated in the Never Forgotten Honor Flight in October of 2012. Mel was never one to sit idle. He was always engaged in some activity or another whether it was hunting with his sons, summer fishing, ice fishing, and most of all golfing. In Mel’s younger days, he was a caddy at the Wausau Country Club and then joined the Club and was a member for 43 years – getting several holes in one. Mel always enjoyed watching the Packers, Brewers, and the Wisconsin Badgers.

He always had a beautiful vegetable garden – full of tomatoes from which he would make his own special salsa. He truly had a green thumb with outside flowers and many house plants. Mel was very active in his church – serving as a janitor in the school and church, singing in the Senior Choir for 35 years and Men’s Club for 15 years. He was also a volunteer at St. Clare’s Hospital for three years.

Mel will be greatly missed by many. He shared his wisdom and knowledge in an unassuming way. He was friendly, humble, out-going and a great conversationalist. His presence filled the room. He had a wonderful sense of humor and was a gracious host. If you were a guest of his, you always had a drink in your hand and food on your plate. He was an abundantly generous man.

Survivors include his wife, Beverly of Rothschild; daughter, Cynthia Hubert, Waukesha; two sons, Bruce (Kyle), Lake Tomahawk; Timothy of Harshaw; step-daughter, Reneé (John Mijal) Gajewski, Weston; step-son, Todd (Melissa) Ahrensdorf, Lake Tomahawk; step-daughter, Christine (Terry) Roberts, Cibolo, TX; three brothers, Robert (Darlene), Donald (Carol), and Kenneth (Joan). Mel is also survived by his brothers-in-law, Donald (Jan) and Kenneth (Betty) Baltz; sisters-in-law, Vernelle Carazalla, Carol Gruening, and Henrietta Baltz.

Mel is also survived by six grandchildren, Bryan Schulta; Kayci (Tyler) Stevenson; Alyssa, Travis, and Lucas Gajewski; and Ashlyn Roberts. He is further survived by one great-grandchild, Hatti Lou Stevenson.

Mel was preceded in death by his parents, twin brother Marvin, wife Cherol, brothers-in-law Robert (Mary) Balz, Duane Baltz, sister-in-law Lorraine, and his step-son, Ty Schumacher.

The Funeral Service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, November 27 at St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1351 Grand Ave, Schofield, WI. Pastor Walter Davidson will officiate. Visitation will be held from 4:00-7:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 26 and again on Monday from 9:30 a.m. until the time of services; all at the church. Private Burial will be at Restlawn Memorial Park at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed in Mel’s name to St. Peter Lutheran Church or to the Never Forgotten Honor Flight.

Brainard Funeral Home and Cremation Center – Everest Chapel is assisting the family at this time. Online condolences may be expressed at

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  1. Marilyn Schmidt

    11/21/2017 at 1:18 pm

    Aunt Bev, Wally and I are saddened at the hearing of Mell’s passing. We are so great-full that you had so many good yeas together to build wonderful memories to warm your deep heart in days to come. Our hearts go out to you and your family, We will thank god that Mell is is his hands now, till we all meet again. With our Love, Marilyn and Wally Schmidt

  2. Kevin and Cindy Church

    11/21/2017 at 1:18 pm

    We are so sorry for your loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

  3. Bruce Flora

    11/21/2017 at 1:18 pm

    Sorry to hear about your dad. Our thought are with you

    Bruce & Cindy Flora

  4. Julie Kryshak

    11/21/2017 at 1:18 pm

    My sympathy for your loss, you are all in my thoughts and prayers.

  5. Lisa sullivan

    11/21/2017 at 1:18 pm

    Our love and prayers are with you. Heaven has gained another angel.

  6. Dan Bayer

    11/21/2017 at 1:18 pm

    My condolences Bev to you and your family during these hard times.
    Always enjoyed the cribbage games we played at the lake and Mel’s wisdom that played out in conversation between hands.
    We already missed the two of this past summer at the lake. Every time I look over and see the empty cabin I think of the good times we had, that will always be in my memory.
    God rest your soul Mel, and keep a cribbage hand open and a beverage waiting for the rest of us.

    Your neighbor and friend at Lake Tom,

    Dan Bayer

  7. Emil & Sarah Bryan

    11/21/2017 at 1:18 pm

    Our sincere sympathies go out to our son-in-law Bruce Gruening and wife Kyle and all the family members. Sad that we are unable to be there in person. Hopefully your wonderful memories of Mel will help to sustain you at this sad time.

  8. Bryan Gajewski

    11/21/2017 at 1:18 pm

    Mel was a great guy, father, husband and grandfather. I have many fond memories with Mel and all the families. He also made a great old fashion. My deepest sympathies to the family.