Obituary: Blanche Lydia Grueser

Published: Jan. 14, 2021 at 2:13 PM EST
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Blanche Lydia Grueser, 97, of Parkersburg passed away January 12, 2021 at the Colonial House of Parkersburg.

She was born in the Borough of Hillsdale, Bergen County, New Jersey on November 2, 1923 to parents Brainard Dusenberry Kugler and Gladys Lydia Geel Kugler.

She signed up for the United States Marine Corps in 1943, on her 20th birthday. In 1944, while stationed in Norman, OK, she was one of the first six girls to pass all Navy swimming tests and earned the title of certified Aviation Machinist Mate, where she inspected, maintained, and serviced aircraft engines.  She acted as a barracks mail clerk, working detached duty and as an acting NCO, while stationed in El Toro, CA.

In 1945, she met her husband, John Paul Grueser, of Parkersburg, WV, who was also in the United States Marine Corps and had recently arrived back in the states from flying on reconnaissance missions overseas.  After six weeks of courting, they were married in Santa Ana, California on April 14, 1945 and shortly after moved to Parkersburg.  The next year they moved to Marietta, Ohio where her husband attended and graduated from Marietta College.  While raising three small children, she worked typing papers for college students to help make ends meet and acted as a Cub Scout leader.  Her husband was a paint salesman and they lived in multiple states until 1961 when they moved back to Parkersburg for good.  She and her husband both worked for the Bureau of Public Debt, until she retired from the Treasury Department, Savings Bond Division after 22 years.

She was a member of American Legion Post 15 and Auxiliary, Order of the Eastern Star – Chapter 14, Order of the White Shrine of Jerusalem - Bethany Shrine #4, a life member of the Women Marines Association, and was a 53-year member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.  She also loved volunteering her time at the First Lutheran Church, where she helped run the food pantry, assisted with yard sales, worked the annual German Festival, and served meals at both weddings and funeral services.

After losing her husband in 2001, she began a new adventure at the Berkshires, where she enjoyed her independence, hosted bridge club, gathered family for Sunday dinners, and showed off her culinary skills, making pies and cakes for all the organizations she participated in.  (She was famous for her peanut butter Texas sheet cake and prime rib.)  She enjoyed traveling, gardening, Scrabble, and always met loved ones with a kind smile, warm hug, and big bag of freshly-baked cookies.  She prided herself on the blue ribbons she had won after entering her 1888 “crazy quilt” in the Mid-Ohio Valley Heritage Quilt Shows.  To give back to her fellow veterans, she made cookies weekly for veterans visiting the Veterans Affairs Office to enjoy with their free coffee.

In 2015, at age 92, she moved into Colonial House, which soon became home.  She enjoyed crafts, games, Bingo, community service work with the Golden Girls, and the company of staff and residents, who became a beloved second family.  She fell in love with the Colonial House’s cats and always left her door open a crack so they could drop in for a visit and a cuddle.  She was an avid reader, loved doing jigsaw puzzles when there was enough light; otherwise, you would catch her cheering on her favorite sports teams and watching game shows from the comfort of her recliner.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Brainard and Gladys Kugler; her husband of 55 years, John Paul Grueser; and her brother, Donald Kugler.

She is survived by her three children: John Grueser, Karen Grueser Fleet, and Charles (Cathy) Grueser; her grandchildren: Scott (Kristin) Grueser, Stacie Grueser, Cassandra Grueser, Christopher Grueser, Kara (Micah) Leisure, Marc Bowers, and Michael Bowers; and her great-grandchildren: Oliver Grueser, Lilly Grueser, Jakob Leisure, and Lillian Leisure.

She was the most wonderful wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and friend.  She and her beautiful smile will be sadly missed by all who were lucky enough to know her.

In lieu of flowers, please be kind to someone in loving memory of Blanche.  Call a friend or relative you haven’t reached out to recently.  Remind your loved ones how important they are to you.  Send a card or flowers to a nursing home resident.  Pay it forward.  Any and all acts of kindness are appreciated.

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