Dr. William Bryant Gruhn, 72

Published 7:44 am Friday, June 30, 2017

Dr. William Bryant Gruhn, 72

Dr. William Bryant Gruhn, 72, of Columbus, North Carolina, passed away Sunday, June 4, 2017, of heart failure at the Elizabeth House Hospice Facility in Flat Rock, North Carolina, surrounded by loving family.

Born in Riverside, California, to Maxine (Bryant) and Herman Gruhn, he spent his childhood days there and in Huron, South Dakota, working on his family’s farm. His academic accomplishments included a degree in chemistry from the University of California – Riverside, studies at Georgia Augusta University in Gottingen, Germany, his doctorate in organic chemistry at Northwestern University, and a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University. He ultimately pursued his medical degree from Dartmouth College in 1974, completing his residency in internal medicine and rheumatology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. There he met his wife, Kathryn, who shared an interest in horses and farm life. He took a research position at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, and in 1981 joined the Nalle Clinic in Charlotte, North Carolina. He also served as clinical professor of medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill. In 1990, he joined Carolina Bone and Joint, dedicating 16 years to clinical practice and research. He and Kathryn developed a farm in Weddington, North Carolina, where they raised their daughters. He also explored passions in woodworking, fox hunting, polo, tennis, writing, gardening, birding and photography. He retired in 2006 to live part-time in the mountains of Independence, Virginia. There, he found a love for bluegrass guitar and played in local jam sessions, eventually leading him to the Blue Ridge Music Center. Seeing a need in the area, he returned to practice rheumatology at Twin County Hospital in Galax, Virginia. He retired again in May 2016, to focus on traveling and being a grandpa. “Bill,” as he liked to be called, had a quiet exterior, but underneath he was a sweet, compassionate soul with a witty sense of humor and lighthearted take on life. He loved his family, his dogs, serving others, and the simple things in life and was quick to downplay his talents and accomplishments. He is well-loved and will be sorely missed, but the music and joy that he has brought his family and friends lives on.

He leaves behind his wife of 43 years, Kathryn (Thorson) Gruhn; daughter, Alice Kexel; son-in-law, Torin Kexel; daughter, Jennifer Gruhn; grandchildren, Miles and Eden Kexel; nieces Remy Newcombe and Honor Karol; dogs Wiggles and Leon; and many wonderful extended family and friends.

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Joint memorial services for Dr. William Gruhn, along with his brother-in-law, Stephen Thorson, will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, July 5, 2017, at First Lutheran Church in Blooming Prairie, Minnesota, with Pastor Jeff Sandgren officiating. The Gruhn and Thorson families will greet friends from 10 to 11 a.m. on Wednesday morning prior to the service at the church. Interment will be in the First Lutheran Cemetery, rural Blooming Prairie.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be given to the Blooming Prairie Education Foundation.  Worlein Blooming Prairie Funeral Home is handling the arrangements. Online condolences may be expressed at www.worlein.com.