Life Story / Obituary
Bruce Sheldon Grebe, age 81, died Sunday, February 11, 2024 at Holland Hospital in Holland, Michigan after a short illness. Bruce was born March 4th, 1942, to Capt. Donald and Delia (VanOfferen) Grebe in Ticonderoga, NY shortly after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and the dark days of WW2. After the war, his father accepted a position with Saint Regis Paper in Kalamazoo, MI where he spent his preteen years playing ball with his two brothers and drowning a few worms in pursuit of that elusive lunker! Upon his Dad’s promotion the family moved to Ossining, NY where he completed High School as an active athlete excelling as a left handed pitcher for the old Ossining Indians Team. Bruce could be counted on missing school on the opening day of both hunting and trout season.
Upon graduation, he and his best friend, Ray Kelly, entered the Air Force where his exceptional mechanical skills advanced him to the position of a Jet Engine mechanic at Griffith’s SAC (Strategic Air Command) Base in Rome, NY. During the frigid nights he and his crew could often be found changing out engines on the B-52’s that flew 24-7 during the cold war. Upon his honorable discharge, Bruce enrolled in the University of Montana where he graduated with both a degree in Forest Management and an MBA. It was there that he met his future wife, Deborah Trenerry. They were married on December 22, 1969, in Saint Paul, MN and after a wedding trip to Yellowstone Park they returned to Missoula, Montana to complete their studies. They were blessed with the birth of one child, Amanda, in 1973.
Bruce was employed by a number of paper/lumber companies. As a result, the family lived in several different areas of the country including Ukiah, CA, Modesto, CA, Rocky Mount, NC, Franklin, VA, and Presque Isle, ME. Finally in 1983 he moved to Bemidji, MN where he managed Northwood’s Panelboard Corporation (Norbord) and remained until retirement. While there he was awarded several patents for technical and processing techniques unique to the OSB industry. His waterproofing resins helped nudge out plywood as the standard underlayment and structural panels. He was ultimately promoted to vice president in charge of operations in North America for Norbord and traveled extensively building plants throughout the world.
On the Homefront, Bruce and Debby built three homes together. He took great pride in being able to make and repair things himself and was a constant consultant to his family when they needed his advice. Besides carpentry and woodworking, Bruce continued his sports of all kinds, and was an avid fisherman throughout the year. After his retirement from Norbord, he started golfing nearly every day and enjoyed introducing his granddaughter to his love of fishing and golfing.
Bruce was preceded in death by his wife Debby Grebe and his parents Donald and Delia Grebe. He is survived by his daughter Amanda (Brandon) Persinger, and granddaughter Eleni Persinger of Holland, MI; his brothers, Richard Grebe (Carol), Lake Clear, NY, and Gary Grebe, Chapel Hill, NC.
A memorial service is planned in Bemidji in July. Please see the following website for the specific date as summer approaches.
In lieu of flowers, please contribute to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation on his behalf.
Arrangements are by the Dykstra Funeral Home-Mulder Chapel.