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1911 Bill 2012

Bill Gronau

September 25, 1911 — June 25, 2012

William A. “Bill” Gronau, 100, passed away on June 25, 2012, at Asbury Park in Newton, Kan. Bill was a lifelong farmer and cattleman who has lived east of Newton since 1934.

Bill was born on Sept. 25, 1911 to Frank and Rosa (Adler) Gronau on the family farm three miles north of Whitewater, Kan. He attended rural schools through the eighth grade. His greatest education came from his parents who taught their children many skills. During his childhood and early adult days, he worked on the farm with his three brothers and sisters. The farm was self sufficient, containing a lumber mill, blacksmith shop, horse and cattle barns, pig and sheep sheds, a granary and a dairy. Besides cattle and horses, they raised pigs, sheep and all kinds of poultry. Their large gardens, including a small orchard and vineyard, supplied food year round. They canned their own fruit and vegetables, processed their own meat and even made their own soap.

On May 2, 1934, Bill married Clara Louise Greep, of Whitewater, at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Wichita, Kan. Together with his beloved wife Clara, he farmed, and they raised their daughters, Lorraine, Frances and Judy. A fourth daughter, Rose Mary, passed away at a young age in 1944. Clara passed away on Feb. 8, 2001.

During the first two years of their marriage, he and his father and brothers built the home, which still stands proudly on his farm east of Newton. Bill has been an active, lifelong member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Newton. He has been a member of the Knights of Columbus since 1934. His greatest passions were growing wheat and other crops on his farm, as well as his cattle business. In 1945, he began buying, selling and hauling cattle for local farmers and feedlot operators. Bill attended livestock auctions in Newton, El Dorado, McPherson, Hutchinson and the Wichita Stockyards. In the 1950s, Bill and Clara owned and operated the Newton Livestock Auction located on East 12th Street in Newton.

Bill’s beautiful team of horses (Bonnie and Bess) were regular participants in the Team Pulling contests during the Harvey County Fair. Bill loved to bowl and was a member of the Knights of Columbus bowling team for many years. He also loved baseball and rarely missed listening to the Royals games on the radio. When his girls were young, he loved to coach their softball teams and spent many hours practicing with them.

A trip to the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas in the late 1960s started the travel wheels turning for Bill and Clara. Almost every year after harvest time, they would enjoy traveling to visit their daughters and families wherever they lived. They traveled to Hawaii, California, Wyoming and Florida, and visited many national parks and monuments along the way.

When his eyesight began to fail in 1990, he had to give up his cattle business. However, he still worked in his fields until he was 90 years of age. Even until his death, he offered his advice as to what and where he wanted certain crops to be planted on his farm.

Bill is survived by daughters, Lorraine Farnan and husband, Lewis, of Newton; Frances Harger and husband, Donald, of Jackson Hole, Wyo.; and Judith McKibben and husband, George, of Clearwater, Fla.; five grandchildren, Tony Farnan of Newton, Keith Harger of Jackson Hole, Wyo., Cindy Harger of Jackson Hole, Wyo., Jackie Van Sant of Dunedin, Fla., and Donna Hatzikoutelis of Smyrna, Ga.; 12 great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.

Bill is preceded in death by his wife of 67 years, Clara Louise (Greep) Gronau; a daughter, Rosemary; a granddaughter, Lynn Farnan; his parents, Frank and Rosa (Adler) Gronau; brothers John, Bernard (infant), Albert, and Martin; sisters Mary McNeill, Katherine Overwaul, Rosie (infant) and Anna Endres.

Rosary will be recited at St. Mary’s Catholic Church on Friday, June 29, at 7 p.m. The Funeral Mass will be held Saturday, June 30, at 10 a.m. at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 8th and Main Street, Newton. Interment – St. Mary’s Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorials in Bill’s memory may be made to St. Mary’s School Building Fund in care of the Broadway Colonial Funeral Home, 120 E. Broadway, Newton, Kan., 67114.

Condolences may be left at

Friends may call at the funeral home on Friday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Arrangements are by Broadway Colonial Funeral Home, Newton
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