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Grenz remembered as kind, generous and hard working

Ruby Grenz, left, will be remembered as a hard-working, caring person who enjoyed talking with and listening to others. Her husband, Eugene, died in March. (Photo courtesy / Grenz family)

Ruby Grenz will be remembered for her ability to talk and listen to just about anyone who crossed her path.

Grenz, 78, Jamestown, was last seen around 5 p.m. Tuesday as she left the Second Avenue Salon. She was found in her 2005 Dodge Caravan minivan at 11:10 a.m. Saturday in a storage area behind Border States Paving, according to Jamestown Police Chief Scott Edinger.

Grenz’s daughters Carla Elstad and Cindy Christianson, both from Jamestown, and Lynette Strube of Fergus Falls, Minn., said this past week has been the toughest they have gone through since their father, Eugene Grenz, died in March. Not knowing where their mother was since leaving her hair appointment Tuesday afternoon was unbearable.

“I’d have to say it was the worst feeling I’ve ever experienced,” Strube said.

“It’s the hardest thing,” Elstad said. “This is something you wouldn’t wish upon anybody.”

Christianson said what was especially frustrating was not being able to help law enforcement officers with any ideas of where Grenz might have gone.

“Mom wasn’t where she was supposed to be,” she said.

Grenz’s funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at Temple Baptist Church, 1200 12th Ave. NE. Grenz and her late husband, Eugene, have been members of the church since 1969, according to the couple’s daughters.

Family life

Strube said Grenz grew up in Venturia, N.D., and Eugene is from Fredonia, N.D.

“They met on a farm through mutual acquaintances,” she said.

They were married for 56 years when her husband died in March. The couple moved from just south of Fredonia to Jamestown in 1969. Eugene Grenz worked for Conlin’s Furniture in Jamestown, where he worked his way up to warehouse manager.

“They were both very hard workers,” Elstad said about her parents.

The Grenzes had five children, a son, Bryant Grenz and another daughter, Terry Perleberg, who died with her husband five years ago in Florida.

Christianson said her parents were known for always being together and were well-liked.

“Everyone who knew Ruby and Eugene liked Ruby and Eugene,” she said.

Grenz worked at the North Dakota State Hospital for 23 years, and she retired as the supervisor of the dietary department in 1999. When she wasn’t preparing meals at the State Hospital, she was cooking and baking at home.

“Mom worked hard around the house, she did all the yard work and gardening, she took care of us children,” Elstad said.

Everything the family ate at home was homemade, from bread, rolls and cookies to soup.

“There was no Hamburger Helper in her house,” Elstad said.

 Strube said Grenz baked something every night, whether it was bread, cookies or even homemade noodles.

“I remember noodles all over the house when she was making them,” Strube said. “There would be noodles on the couch, noodles on the chair, all drying.”

Elstad said Grenz didn’t require a meticulously clean home, but she did like things clean and neat. Every Saturday each child had a cleaning chore. Elstad said her job was cleaning the baseboards.

Elstad said their mom and dad taught their children that everyone in the family needed to work and do their part.

“That is how our parents raised us, everyone did their chores, everybody pitched in,” she said.

The Grenz’s family life wasn’t all hard work. Strube said every other year the family’s summer trip was to the Spokane, Wash., area for a reunion with their father’s side of the family.

Christianson said the family would get into a brown Pontiac station wagon and drive to Washington.

“Mom would pack a cooler with sandwiches, chips and something to drink. There was no stopping at restaurants,” she said.

The family would also travel just about every week to Eugene Grenz’s parent’s farm and got to know their cousins and other relatives very well.

Ruby’s routine

Elstad, Christianson and Strube all said they noticed a change in their mother after their father died.

“We knew it was tough on her when she lost dad. They were married 56 years, those two people, they were always together,” Elstad said.

At least one of the daughters would either stop by Grenz’s house or give her a call every day.

Grenz’s routine after her husband died was to go to the McDonald’s restaurant then go walk in the Buffalo Mall.

Strube said Grenz was easy-going, liked to talk with people and was a good listener.

Christianson said Grenz didn’t have close friends to walk with her at the mall, but she would always find someone to talk and listen to during her daily walks.

“Those would be my stories when I came up here in the afternoon, who she talked to at the mall,” Christianson said.

Family and friends are grieving the loss of Grenz, but Strube and her sisters know their mother is not alone anymore.

“We know they are together again, that is how we are getting comfort now,” she said.

Sun reporter Chris Olson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at

Chris Olson

Hometown: Traverse City, MI College: Northwestern Michigan College and Michigan State University

(701) 952-8454