Ronald  Granroth

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.

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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

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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.

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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

Chassell

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.

Surviving are:

His wife Donna Granroth of Chassell

His children:

Eric (Jes) Granroth

Lisa (Dave) Pollock

Davin (Amy) Granroth

Catherine (Sam) Sudame

Aaron “AJ” (Krista) Granroth

Alan (Lucy) Granroth

Benjamin Granroth

Peter Granroth

His grandchildren:

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.