Morrill Alumni Banquet: Charles Gruber receives Distinguished Alumni Award
Submitted by Glenda Rokey
Charles Gruber was presented with the Distinguished Alumni Award by Shirley Kendall Brougher at the Morrill Alumni Banquet held on Sunday, May 26.
Charles was raised on the family farm, on the state line, north of Morrill. He attended school in Morrill, graduating in 1969. After graduation, he joined his father in the family farming operation, and later farmed with his brother, Dan. In the late 1980s, Charles and his wife, Jane, began operating their own farming business, raising soybeans, corn, wheat and cattle, an operation they continue today.
Over the years, Charles has been actively involved in the community. He has been a member of the Morrill Volunteer Fire Department for 34 years and currently serves as the fire chief. He has been a member of the Brown County Rural Water District No. 1 governing board for more than 30 years, on which he has served as chairman of the board and is now the current secretary. He’s a member of the Pony Creek Watershed Board and serves as its treasurer.
Since graduation, he has been an active member, and served on the board, of the Morrill Community Chamber of Commerce. Through the Chamber, he has helped prepare and serve community meals, helped set up and orchestrate events during Morrill Days, and currently serves as Santa Claus each December. In 2004, Charles facilitated the awarding of the KAN-STEP Grant from the State of Kansas to the Chamber of Commerce, the City of Morrill and the Fire Department. The grant, which allowed for the constructions of the Community Center and Fire Barn, required many hours of volunteer labor. Charles served as the local supervisor on the project, spending countless hours organizing volunteers, lining up equipment and supplies, working alongside fellow volunteers, and overseeing its three-year construction.
After graduation, Charles and a number of his friends formed the Morrill Marauders. Through the efforts of this group, a softball field was constructed on the site of the former Morrill School, and Charles continues to help maintain the infield, fencing, lighting and bleachers. He also coached the Morrill Midgets, a T-ball team, on that field for many years.
Charles served as a member of the USD No. 441 school board for eight years, served in the Kansas National Guard, and belongs to the American Legion. He is a lifelong member of Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Falls City, Neb., where he serves as an acolyte and usher.
He and his wife, Jane, are the parents of three daughters: Emily Kuczmarski, a senior tractor design engineer for John Deere in Waterloo, Iowa; Dr. Lucinda Gruber, a physician with the Mayo Clinic Health System in Rochester, Minn.; and Dr. Joann Gruber, a public health investigator for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Harrisburg, Penn.