John Nicholas Gruber

John Gruber, 98, passed away peacefully in Brentwood early in the morning on Oct. 14.

John was known by all as “Grube.” John was born and raised in Black River Falls, Wisconsin, where he earned varsity letters in football, wrestling, boxing, and gymnastics in high school. He was most proud of his service with the Marines during WWII. John enlisted in June 1942, and was honorably discharged Oct. 24, 1945. He served two years in combat in the Mariana Island chain as an AA machine gun crewman. After separating from active service at NAS, Tillamook, Oregon, he met and eventually married Virginia Claire Sander and moved back to Black River Falls, where he lived for two years before settling in Santa Cruz. While in Black River Falls, John was a police officer and professional wrestler, traveling from town-to-town on the weekends. Once in California, John worked in construction before he became a tanner at Salz Leather Company in Santa Cruz. Throughout his life, he enjoyed hunting, judo, weightlifting, his many friends at Sir Froggy’s Bar, and most recently at Harvest Park Bowl in Brentwood — after he moved from Santa Cruz with his youngest son Timothy, daughter-in-law Teresa and grandson Brandon in June 2018.

John is preceded in death by his parents, John A. and Lena Gruber, wife Virginia Claire Gruber, fellow Marine and eldest son John Nicholas Gruber Jr., and eldest daughter Kathleen Strang. He is survived by six of his children: Charleen (Santa Cruz), Patrick (Reno), Michael (La Quinta), Maureen (Redding), Daniel (Aptos), Timothy (Brentwood), and seventeen grandchildren. He will be missed for his sharp wit, service to his country and story-telling from his long life.

John will be buried at the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery in Dixon, with full military honors on Friday, Nov. 22, at 11:30 a.m. A celebration of John’s life will occur at Harvest Park Bowl, in Brentwood on Saturday, Nov. 2, from 2-5 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to nonprofit Shared Adventures (in memo line, write: 321life+1Project). P.O. Box 396, Santa Cruz, CA 95061.