Aug. 19, 1918 — March 27, 2013
Joseph “Joe” Grube peacefully died of natural causes on March 27, 2013, in Corvallis. He was 94.
Joe was born Aug. 19, 1918, in Punxsutawney, Jefferson County, Pa., to Raymond W. and Geraldine K. Baumgartner Grube. When Joe was 3, his father moved the family to Oregon. Joe was raised in several small logging towns in the southern Willamette Valley (Cottage Grove, Veneta, Pengra). He graduated as valedictorian of the Lowell High School Class of 1935.
He attended Linfield College in McMinnville, graduating with the Class of 1942. Immediately after Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps, and “got his wings” at Luke Field, Ariz. (42-I). He flew P-39s, then transferred to double-engine planes, flying the A-26 and B-26. Much of his service was spent as a flight instructor.
When asked if he really did fly his Army Air Corps plane under the Golden Gate Bridge, he always changed the subject.
At Linfield he had met Jean Etta Burt; she asked him to escort her as a member of the Linfield May Day Festival Court (in part because he had a car). Thereafter they began dating and were married on Nov. 28, 1942, at Everett, Wash., while he was stationed at Payne Field.
After honorable discharge from the AAC, Joe and Jean returned to Lowell, where he had a job with Butte Lumber Co. Joe and Jean began their family. He served on the Lowell School Board and was charter president of the Lowell Lions Club.
The mill was closed due to the building of Lookout Point Dam, so in 1952 the family moved to Grants Pass, where Joe worked with his father and brother in the Raymond Grube and Sons Lumber Company (in Selma).
In 1957 Joe took a job with the Civil Aeronautics Authority (now the Federal Aviation Administration) in Lake Minchumina, Alaska, a remote weather station. The next year he became an air traffic controller, and worked at Ladd and Eielson Air Force bases, and at Fort Wainwright. He advanced to become chief of the FAA Tower Operations at Fairbanks International Airport. In Fairbanks he also was a trustee of First Presbyterian Church.
He retired in 1979, and he and Jean moved to Corvallis to be near her brother, Wayne V. Burt, and his wife, Louise. In retirement Joe enjoyed his lifelong passion for photography, throwing horseshoes, his computer, spreading funny stories, and being with his family. He loved music, especially when his family got together to sing.
Joe and Jean traveled with Wayne and Louise on many international trips and cruises, and, over time, he and Jean drove to all of the contiguous U.S. states.
Joe loved baseball, which he played at Linfield and semiprofessionally in the summers in the late 1930s. Two of his favorite memories were batting against the famous “Satchel” Paige in Eugene, and, in 2010, as one of the oldest living Linfield varsity baseball players, throwing out the first pitch in a Wildcat/Bearcat game in McMinnville. For several years Joe was editor of the Oregon State Horseshoe Pitchers newsletter, “The Ringer Review.”
He was a charter member of the Beanery Bunch, good friends who meet every Thursday morning in Corvallis to solve all the problems of the world. Joe cheated at cards, and always smiled when he was caught.
After 68 years of marriage, Jean passed away in 2010. Joe lived his last years at Stoneybrook Assisted Living, where he was known as the “true gentlemen’s gentleman,” always whistling a happy tune, and sharing jokes and stories with others. Two words best describe Joe: loyal and humble.
He deeply appreciated the compassionate care of the staff at Stoneybrook Assisted Living, and of the home health nurses, hospice nurses and aides who helped him at the end of his life. Three days before he died, he laughingly dreamed aloud that he was sharing his lunch with “Jean,” making sure she would eat.
He is survived by his sons Gareth (wife, Barbara), David (wife, Lynn) and Michael (wife, Melanie); daughter Kathleen (“Susie”); brother Jim (of Grants Pass); five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren; and all his Beanery Bunch buddies.
Contributions in his memory can be given to the Corvallis Community Band or to the Arbor Day Foundation.