Bruce E. Gronbeck 1941 - 2014

Bruce Elliott Gronbeck

Distinguished Professor Emeritus

We are sad to report that Bruce E. Gronbeck passed away on September 10th , 2014.

Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Communication Studies, Bruce Elliott Gronbeck of Longmont, Colorado, died September 10 in Iowa City doing what he loved so much: being with his friends and colleagues at the University of Iowa. He delivered his last lecture Tuesday, and then hours before his death on Wednesday, was bathed in love and gratitude from his colleagues and students at a celebratory dinner. 

Bruce was born into what he called “a Norwegian ghetto” in northern Minnesota in 1941 to E. Leslie and Bernice Eid… Gronbeck. He and his sister, Susan Gronbeck-Tedesco, grew up in Crookston, MN. Bruce received his undergraduate degree from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN and PhD. from the University of Iowa. He taught at the University of Michigan, where in 1968 he met and married his wife of 46 years, Wendy Gilbert. Christopher Elliott and Ingrid Christine Gronbeck were born in Ann Arbor. The family moved to Iowa City in 1973 and Jakob Andrew Lam Sieng Gronbeck joined the family in 1975. Three years ago, Bruce and Wendy moved to Longmont, Colorado to be closer to their grandchild, Nathan. There, singing with the Longmont Chorale brought Bruce immense joy. He toured the British Isles with the Chorale last June, singing in the cities where he had done research over the years. 

Bruce Gronbeck loved the University of Iowa and especially the people in the Dept. of Communication Studies. His dear friend and role model for scholarship, engagement, and civility was Sam Becker. Like Sam, Bruce served as chair of that department, as faculty Senate president, president of the National Communication Association and on numerous committees and boards locally and nationally.Bruce received honorary doctorates from Jyväskylä University in Finland, Uppsala University in Sweden, and Concordia College. He advised a record number of PhD. recipients at Iowa and loved hooding them at graduation wearing his Swedish doctoral garb replete with top hat and sword. His list of publications and honors is long, but nothing brought Bruce more joy than teaching and mentoring students. He saw their strengths and encouraged them to develop into top scholars and citizens. Bruce was an active and devoted Democrat, but he loved everything about campaigns and politics. He was fascinated, but never discouraged, by the whole process. He said there was nothing better than being a professor of political communication during the Iowa caucuses in an election year.

Bruce will be missed by Wendy, Christopher, Jake, and Ingrid; by Nathan Julyk, who says “he was the King of Poppas!”;by Bret Julyk; by sister Sue and husband John Gronbeck-Tedesco; by sister-and brothers-in-law Pat Gilbert and Jim Froehlich and Judy and Mike Preville; and, John Gilbert. He was beloved Uncle Bruce to nieces and nephews Lauren Gilbert and Mike Casey and Jack; Anthony and Emily Jacobs and Aila and Cici; Erin and Scott Zulewski and Zack and Ellie; Annie Gronbeck-Tedesco and Mark Vickers-Willis; John Gronbeck-Tedesco and Karuna Uppal and Nisha. (And, his faithful Aussies, Norah and Stella.)Every Thanksgiving, this scattered and divergent group was blended and bonded when Bruce was handed anonymous bits of gratitude from everyone and had one hour to pull together a toast that captured the essence of his extended family.

Bruce was preceded in death by his parents, an infant brother, James, and his in-laws, Jack and Sylvia Gilbert who figured their daughter had won the lottery. Time and place of a memorial gathering in Iowa City will be announced soon.

We say goodbye to Bruce with the benediction he was known for: “And Go Hawks!” 

Bruce suggested that any memorials be directed to Iowa City Hospice, 1025 Wade St., Iowa City, IA 42240; to the Nathan A. Julyk Trust (his grandson) care of Ingrid Julyk, 131 High Country Trail, Lafayette, CO, 80026; the Longmont Chorale, care of Wendy; or, the Gronbeck Fund at the Dept. of Communication Studies.

Tributes to Bruce:

Iowa City Celebration of Life

Iowa City Celebration of Life Program

Colorado Celebration of Life 

Wendy Gronbeck's tribute for the occasion of the Alumni Fellows reception, Sept. 11, 2014.

Words of tribute from around the world

Obermann Center Tribute

Interview with Bruce Gronbeck

Tribute from the University of Jyväskylä, Finland

Bruce's lectures at the University of Jyväskylä in 2009

Press Citizen article

Photos from the 2014 Gronbeck Alumni Fellow events

Photos of Bruce

2014 NCA Panel- Remembering Bruce: A Tribute to Bruce Gronbeck

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