Award named after longtime Red Cross disaster chair

Published 11:06 am Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Jim Grunewald may have passed away in April, but the longtime leader with the Mower County Red Cross is still making a difference.

Jim, who owned G&G Heating and Air Conditioning, passed away unexpectedly after a motorcycle accident in April. In honor of his commitment to the disaster program, the chapter created a new award to be given each year: the “Jim Grunewald Disaster Volunteer of the Year.” The first award will be presented this evening at the Freeborn-Mower Red Cross Chapter annual meeting.

The meeting is open to all those who have donated money, time or blood in the last year to the Freeborn-Mower Chapter. Tickets are $10 per person, with social time at 6 p.m. and dinner at 6:30 p.m. Contact the chapter at 507-437-4589 or for more information.

Email newsletter signup

Following Jim’s death, his family asked friends to make their memorial gifts to the American Red Cross. Nearly $6,000 has been given so far.

“We were very overwhelmed at the generosity of his friends and colleagues,” Angie said. “We’re so glad that it could support such a great cause as the Red Cross.”

Working with Jim’s wife Nancy, son Chris and daughters Angie, Lisa and Carrie, the Red Cross has identified several projects the memorial funds will support. They include a new canopy for the Austin building, shelving for the basement, repairs to its emergency response vehicle “Ernie,” safety camps for students and disaster drills and training.

“We thought of what to have memorials given to,” Angie said. “It just seemed very natural and fitting … The Red Cross was always of great importance to my dad.”

Jim was involved with the Mower County chapter of the Red Cross for more than 30 years, during which he spent multiple terms on the board of directors and two years as chair of the board. He served as Disaster Chair for 19 years and recruited most of his family and many of his friends to join his efforts.

Jim retired in January from the family business, several months before the motorcycle accident that ended his life in April.

“He has become so much a part of the fabric of Austin,” Jim’s brother Phil Grunewald said in April. “Everybody virtually in town knows him and they all love him.”