CHINOOK - Herbert O. Gruss, 78, formerly of Chinook, died Sunday evening, February 20, 2005, at his Missoula residence.
Herb was born Nov. 17, 1926, to Otto Wilhelm and Berta Gruss in Langenols, Germany. Before the age of 18, he was drafted into the German army. He
fought in several World War II historical campaigns, including the Battle of the Bulge. Near the end of the war, he surrendered to the British Army. After his release from POW camp, Herb resided in Wolfenbrttle Germany, where he met the love of his life, Ingeburg Siemann.
Herb and Inge married July 22, 1950. Because his hometown was occupied by Poland, Herb was considered a refugee and was eligible for relocation. The Lutheran Church sponsored their immigration and in May, 1952, Herb, Inge, and their infant son, Ralph, arrived in Chinook.
Herb was a carpenter under Hugo Schellien, and later became a private contractor. He built or participated in building the Meadowlark School, the Wolf Point post office and several Chinook brick homes. He also built many government contracts, including the visitor center/museum at the Little Big Horn Battlefield on the Crow Reservation.
After rehabilitating from encephalitis, Herb studied at DeVry Technical Institute, Chicago, Ill., where he earned his second class FCC license. He opened Chinook Electronics and remained a prominent Main Street businessman for several decades.
Herb had a strong civic pride and deep appreciation for the citizens of Chinook. He was an honorary member of the National Guard-Chinook Unit and an honorary member of the VFW. Herb was also a lifetime member of the Chinook Lions Club and a member of the Order of the Eagles. His most noted civic contribution was providing the public address system for local special events. He was deeply patriotic and proudly flew his flags from his porch. Many of his children were inspired by his patriotism and served in the armed services.
Herb's greatest love and joy was his large family and many friends. After the death of his wife in 1993, Herb maintained the family home until moving to Missoula in 2003.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Inge; father and mother; brother, Heinz; and infant son, Rainier.
Survivors include his children, Ralph (Sue), Roy (Cathy), Ron (Pat), James (Tami), Frank (Allison), John, Susan (Neal), Thomas (Ione), and David; 16 grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; brothers, Erwin, Ernst and Alfred; and extended family in Germany, including Inge's nephew Jrg.
Memorials are suggested to the Zion Lutheran Church and the Chinook Lions Club.