Obituary of Ronald Granroth
Written by Ronald Granroth in March 2006
Ronald Alvin Granroth was born on June 21, 1944 in Calumet, MI in the C&H Hospital, the seventh of
seven children. His parents were Alfred and Siiri (Alatalo) Granroth. They were the children of Finnish
immigrants: father a copper miner, mother a homemaker. Ron’s father served in infantry and military
police, receiving wounds in the Meuse-Argonne campaign. His mother went to work after third grade,
his father graduated from eighth grade.
Ron attended the Calumet Public School system. He was a mediocre high school student who graduated
in 1962 at the age of 17. He was involved in ROTC at Calumet High School in the drill team and was a
major when he graduated.
Ron was 15 when his father died after suffering with emphysema. He had worked underground for 30
years and had been subjected to poisoned gas in WWI. This had a deep impression on Ron. His father’s
love of country and patriotism was contagious and was probably the reason Ron joined the Army shortly
after high school. He was recruited into the Army Intelligence Service in 1962 because of his test scores.
After receiving training in communications and cryptography, he served first at a garrison intelligence
gathering post, and then at a clandestine international gathering post in Europe, at time immediately
following the Cuban Missile Crisis and during the Berlin Missile Crisis, one of the hottest periods of the
Cold War. It was while serving at the clandestine site that his recognition and appreciation of education
lit up. The average education of the people he worked with was a master’s degree. During this time, his
horizons broadened about people, politics, the world, the arts, though relationships, travel, cuisine,
history, and music.
He left the service in 1965 and eventually went to work for the AT&T Company in Detroit, MI. After six
months, he received a conditional promotion to become a systems analyst for a digital computer
switching system that was part of the military’s communication network. The condition was that he
finish in the top ten percent in a series of schools to prepare him for the work. This took over a year. To
his delight, the promotion was to an office in Iron Mountain, MI – back in the U.P. While in Iron
Mountain, he travelled extensively to communication planning meetings – joint U.S. government and
AT&T, in addition to attending more schools and passing on knowledge to coworkers.
In 1970, he received a promotion and was assigned to Bell Labs as a software engineering consultant
–another learning experience among bright, multi-talented people. It was a thrill for him to have some
of his writing published for the first time.
In the summer of 1969, he was introduced to and fell in love with Donna. They were married at the end
of February in 1970 and Donna joined him in Illinois. In the fall, they were expecting their first child and
knew they didn’t want to raise children in the city. So, they started working their way back to the U.P. by
accepting a position in Steven’s Point, WI with AT&T.
It was during this time that he contemplated a change in career. Shortly after the birth of his first son, he
accepted a position as agent for the Prudential Insurance Company in the Ontonagon, MI area. The
transition from computer systems analyst to insurance salesman was relatively easy. Although he
enjoyed the independence of running his own business, after two years he accepted a position as the
Prudential sales manager in the Copper Country area.
When he accepted this position, he made a pact with himself that he would have it for no more than
five years. By then, he would have decided whether to move up the corporate ranks with the Prudential
Company or would have set up his own professional practice. In order to prepare for either event, he
started taking courses with the American College to obtain his professional degree in insurance and
finance. During this time, in addition to leading a staff of eight agents, he also became involved in his
local professional association, the Copper Country Association of Life Underwriters. During this time, he
was elected and served through all the offices in his local association. He also made several trips to
Lansing to represent the local association at the state level and a number of visits to the capitol to
discuss issues of local concern with our state legislators.
Understanding that moving on with the Prudential Company would mean a return to the city, and with
his college work completed, he started I.F.P. Associates (Insurance and Financial Planning Associates). It
took several years of very hard work to establish the business. By 1982, the now-established business
had attained a reputation of excellent service, integrity, and professional competence.
In May of 1982, the Michigan Association of Life Underwriters asked Ron to serve as their regional vice
president for the Upper Peninsula. For the next two years, he conducted leadership workshops for the
officers of five U.P. local associations and occasionally appeared as guest speaker at their monthly
meetings. In 1984, he was nominated for the position of secretary-treasurer for the Michigan
Association of Life Underwriters, a position which meant automatic progression to president-elect and
then president of the Michigan Life Underwriters. This was the first time that someone from the Upper
Peninsula was accorded this honor. Of course, with honor comes a great deal of work. Fortunately, the
business had an outstanding staff and was flourishing. The commitment of time for association work
involved about a month away from home and office as secretary, two months as president elect, and
four months as president.
On completion of his presidency, he served as immediate past-president and chairman of the Field
Practices and Ethics Committee. He was also elected to serve as chairman of the Michigan Life
Underwriters Political Action Committee (LUPAC). During this period, starting with the year of his
presidency, he made several trips to Washington D.C. and Lansing to meet with United States and state
lawmakers and to testify on behalf of the Michigan State Association at committee hearings.
In July of 1991, everything changed. After fighting the effects of severe and progressively debilitating
pain for 21 years, his system broke down. On the 4 th of July, he was initially unable to walk from the
living room to the kitchen, his resting pulse was 125, his blood pressure was dangerously high. He had
lost the ability to read, he had lost half of his vocabulary, along with other cognitive failure. He
remembered confusion and panic, and nobody knew why. Specialists at the Marshfield Clinic and the
Mayo Clinic in Minnesota were baffled. Severe depression set in until September 20, 1992 when his
disability retirement became official. The sun rose as usual. The world didn’t end. He decided to quit
whining about what he couldn’t do and instead turn a new page.
Lyme disease had been suspected and discounted because of negative test results. Then, in early 1993,
his family doctor called to say there was a new test. This time the test came up positive. Although
previous tests could have both false positive and false negative results, this test was designed so that
false positives were not possible. He had Lyme disease and had had it since 1969, picking it up while
stream fishing in the Iron Mountain area. Treatment started immediately. Nearly two and a half years of
chemotherapy-like antibiotic was the treatment. These treatments caused predictable, regular, and
severe reactions. During the early stages of this treatment, one of his son’s friends needed help with
school work. Although in a weakened condition and still with limited cognitive abilities, he invited the
boy to come visit. Ron explained that he probably couldn’t do the seventh-grade work, but he would
work with the boy if the boy promised to work with Ron and they would learn it together. The boy
passed seventh grade and continued on to graduate with his class. It proved to be therapeutic for Ron.
As areas of the brain that had stopped functioning were reconnected, it was psychologically gratifying to
be able to do something useful once again.
Earlier, his son Davin, who suffered from severe asthma, needed a competitive outlet. Ron, who had
enjoyed shooting his BB gun since age 7, started hunting at age 11, shot competitively in high school
ROTC, and qualified with a variety of firearms while with the Army Intelligence Service, would enjoy
shooting with Davin and his other sons. With a particular penchant for pistol shooting, Ron enrolled
Davin in the National Junior Pistol Camp held in conjunction with the national matches in July of 1990.
Davin, who couldn’t enjoy basketball or track, fell in love with competitive shooting. With the purchase
of a target pistol and coaching from his dad, plus other competitors, Davin started competing in 1991.
By the time he graduated in 1994, he was the fifth-ranked junior pistol shooter in the U.S. and had twice
won a berth on the NRA-USA National Civilian Pistol Team.
Ron was beginning to find the next niche in his life, even though it was during this time that he was
undergoing the rigorous Lyme disease treatment. He studied coaching techniques, and the art of the
pistol smith. During this time, along with coaching Davin, and with the return of some physical strength,
Ron started shooing again – first for therapy and then, with Davin’s urgings, competition, eventually
becoming a national-level competitor.
Spending a lot of time at the range, Davin and Ron were troubled by the fact that there were never any
other kids. So, with that in mind, the two of them planned and put together the first junior shooting
camp in the U.P. Participants were all kids that they knew. The camp was a success with emphasis on
safety, sportsmanship, and shooting as an athletic event. (There are 15 different shooting events in the
Olympics.) Remarkably, out of the first camp emerged a future competitor who Ron worked with and
mentored until he, too, was competing at a national level.
This first camp has developed into an annual event now at the Ottawa Sportsman’s Club and is
recognized nationwide among shooters as one of the best sustained shooting programs in the country. It
has been covered positively by both the local and state media. After the 1999 shooting camp, Ron
picked up two more potential competitors: his son Ben, and a close friend of Ben’s, also named Ben. In
1999, the two Bens accompanied Ron to the nationals where they were enrolled as range volunteers so
that they could experience the exciting atmosphere of Camp Perry, Ohio, home of the National
Championships. Upon returning, two more recent graduates of the shooting camp joined the crew.
In 2001, the two Bens were ready for the big match and the boys did very well with friend Ben coming in
the middle of the pack and Ron’s son coming in 12 th in his class and high junior marksman. The boys also
shot the team matches, winning the team championship with their fellow shooters on the MRPA
(Michigan Rifle and Pistol Association).
In 2002, the team grew to seven members. Competing at the nationals, four of the seven finished in the
top ten of their class (against all ages), earning the red jackets and caps of the NRA-USA Pistol Team. In
the team matches they finished 2 nd in the junior division and took home the trophy for the center-fire
junior team championship.
Returning to the nationals in 2003, the team finished 1 st against all ages in their class and swept the
junior division for the national title. In 2004, they repeated their feat as national junior champions. They
also took home honors as the 1 st place sharpshooter team (all ages), beating 25 expert teams and one
master class team in the process. In 2005, having lost the two Bens and another, but adding three newer
shooters, the boys finished 3 rd place in the junior division.
All of this activity working with the boys was both therapeutic and motivating for Ron. They all became
like family to him, and it was his honor to be able to discuss their hopes and their dreams, their troubles
and their triumphs, and to watch them grow into adulthood. He became close with many of them, and
they continued to come visit him, even as adults.
Back in 1991, with Davin needing practice in winter, as well as summer, Ron and Davin joined the MTU
Pistol Club. The MTU students, wondering about this scrawny kid with a big gun box, were amazed when
they saw his completed targets. When they asked Davin, “How did you do that?” Davin just pointed to
the back of the room where Ron was sitting and said, “Ask my coach.” Thus began a wonderful
relationship with Ron serving as range officer, coach, and armorer for the MTU Pistol Club. This
relationship also benefited the junior team. The boys all became members of the Pistol Club, and the
club scheduled exclusive practice time for them.
— The former was written by Ronald Granroth in 2006 –
Throughout the years, Ron cared about others and helped them to realize their own potential, whether
it was in insurance, shooting, education, or just to better themselves. Thinking outside of himself by
helping others helped him to deal with his pain. Where others may have given up after a mental and
physical collapse, Ron found the tenacity to lift himself out of his depression, rebuild his strength, and
relearn his vocabulary. He was an extraordinary man and he will be missed dearly by many.
OBITUARY FROM DAILY MINING GAZZETTE
Ronald A. Granroth, 72, a resident of Chassell passed away Friday morning April 7, 2017, at his Home, following a lengthy illness.
He was born on June 21, 1944, in Calumet, MI, a son of the late Alfred and Siiri (Alatalo) Granroth. Ron was a graduate of the Calumet High School with the class of 1962.
Mr. Granroth was a veteran having served with the United States Army and the Secret Service during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Once he returned to the States he began a career in Insurance
On February 28, 1970, he was united in marriage to the former Donna Waara. The couple had resided in Lyle, IL, Stevens Pointe, WI, Mass City, MI and for the past 43 years has made their home in Chassell.
Mr. Granroth was a member of the First Apostolic Lutheran Church of Houghton.
Preceding him in death were his parents, his siblings, Ruth, Mildred, Floyd, Richard, Paul, and in infancy, David; his granddaughter; Seraphina Granroth and his in-laws: Jack Peterson, John Janssen, Robert Peterson, and Dorothy Granroth.
His wife Donna Granroth of Chassell
Eric (Jes) Granroth
Lisa (Dave) Pollock
Davin (Amy) Granroth
Catherine (Sam) Sudame
Aaron “AJ” (Krista) Granroth
Alan (Lucy) Granroth
Lila, Eva, Eliina, Isaac, Django, Arvid and Sylvi
Numerous nieces, nephews and cousins
Funeral services for Ronald will be held 1 pm Wednesday April 12, 2017, at the First Apostolic Lutheran Church of Houghton with David Taivalkoski to officiate. Burial will be in the Chassell Cemetery where the Copper Country Veterans Association will hold Military Honors.
Friends may call on Wednesday from 11 am until time of services at the First Apostolic Lutheran Church of Houghton.
Ron's family would like to thank Aspirus at Home Hospice Care for their care and compassion in Ron's last days.
To read more about Ron’s life or to send condolences to the family please visit www.memorialchapel.net.
The Memorial Chapel & Plowe Funeral Homes of Chassell are assisting the family with the arrangements.
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