KLEMME - Lee Edward Gruis, 77, of Klemme received his final dispatch to heaven on January 27, 2016 from Tidewell Hospice in Bradenton, FL.
A Celebration of Life and Memorial Service will be held 1:30 P.M., Sunday, July 3rd at the Immanuel Reformed UCC Church, 313 Elder Street in Klemme with Revs. Donna Buckman and Mark Pluff officiating. Inurnment will be in Ell Township Cemetery in Klemme. Cataldo Funeral Home in Garner is in charge of arrangements.
Lee was born May 19, 1938 to Bernard and Mildred (Janssen) Gruis in Tama Iowa. He began school in 1943 at Kanawha, Iowa. A move to a farm southeast of Klemme allowed Lee to complete his elementary education in country school. He graduated from Klemme High School in 1955. Lee grew up helping his Dad on the farm, often joking about starting farming with Tonka Toys. He joined the Little Cattle Feeder 4-H Club winning many Purple and Blue ribbons when he showed his cattle at various fairs including the North Iowa Fair in Mason City and the Waterloo Cattle Congress. There he won Best in Show for his short horn cattle and was one of the youngest winners of a trip to Chicago. In the winter months, Lee and his brother, Galen, ran a trap line. Lee loved riding motorcycles with his friends. He was very proud of his Indian Motorcycle and a couple of bad motorcycle accidents never deterred him from riding. Lee started driving straight truck when he graduated from high school, hauling sand, gravel, and livestock. He did custom work, shelling corn, baling, and combining for many farmers in the Meservey and Klemme area and was well regarded for his hard work ethic. The Gruis’s moved their farming operations to Brooten, MN in 1968. Lee farmed, milked 60 cows and began driving semi-truck over the road as an Owner/Operator for Nationwide Carriers. His trucking career spanned over forty years as an Owner/Operator. He received many safe driving awards for millions of accident free miles while leased to Nationwide Carriers, Northstar Transport, Transport America, and Hueneman Farms. In 1997, he was one of five finalists for the National Goodyear Highway Hero Award. His quick thinking and defensive driving avoided running over five individuals and their vehicles that were blocking the highway as a result of a previous accident. He was a lifetime member of OOIDA, the Owner/Operator Independent Trucking Association. In 1989, while attending the Klemme Centennial Celebration, Lee reconnected with his high school sweetheart, Gracka Gerardi. They were married in 1990, moved to Kimball, MN, and had more than 25 years of adventures together. Lee’s hobby of buying and selling collectibles, became an established business for them as The New & Used Company of Kimball, Inc. and Willow Creek Antiques. They renovated an abandoned country church and turned it into Das Gruis Guest Haus Bed & Breakfast. During this period, Gracka went to truck driving school, obtained her class A CDL and drove team with Lee for 5 years until they moved back to Iowa in 1998. Due to declining health, Lee was forced to retire from trucking in 2011. Later, after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Lee and Gracka relocated to Bradenton, FL to have access to support systems specific to that disease.
Lee will long be remembered by all who knew him for his wonderful sense of humor and story-telling ability.
He was a member of Dayspring Assembly of God Church in Belmond, IA.
Lee is survived by his wife, Gracka, Bradenton, FL; four children, Micky (Doris) Gruis, Zimmerman, MN, Lori Struckman (special friend, Eric), Minneapolis, MN, Brian (Patricia) Gruis, Emily, MN and Tracy Gruis, Crystal, MN; two step-children, Suzanne (Tim) Collard-Blackledge, Sarasota, FL and Charles (Carole Ann) Collard, Buffalo, NY; six grandchildren; three step-grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Galen; sister, Doris Daggett; infant brother, Kevin; half-brother, Maynard Meyer; brother-in-law, Don Daggett; and son-in law, Joe Struckman.
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