Robert Walter "Bob" Gruel, 84, of Great Falls, a Smith River-area rancher and WWII Army veteran, died of pancreatic cancer Monday at his home.
Visitation is from 5 to 8 p.m. today at Chapel of Chimes Funeral Home. His funeral service is 11 a.m. Thursday at First United Methodist Church. A private family burial will take place in the Gruel Family Cemetery.
Survivors include his wife, Elsie Gruel; daughters Robin Jean (Chuck) Niswanger and Gail Arleen (Paul) Wages; son Steven George (Monica Fuller) Gruel; one "adopted son," nephew David Calvin (Linda Toivonen) Graft; sister, Laurel Deane Holman, all of Great Falls; and six grandchildren, Kingston Stark, Coulter and Clay Gruel and Ryan, Brodie and Kirbie Wages.
He was preceded in death by his son, Wesley Walter Gruel, in 1982.
Robert Walter Gruel was born Aug. 15, 1925, in Great Falls to Walter W. and Sylvia E. (Smith) Gruel. He attended schools in Portage and Great Falls, graduating in 1943.
Bob lived and worked on the family farm north of Portage until he was drafted at age 20. He served 18 months, 12 of which were in Hawaii.
He married Edith Elsie Kneeland in 1953, and purchased the Smith River ranch that same year.
Bob's life passion and work was the farm and ranch, always trying to improve production and product. He never considered himself a "self-made" man but one who was blessed to have good family and friends who helped make his dreams possible. He always felt family was the best "crew."
Bob enjoyed ranch work and never gave up his job as night man for the heifers, salting the cattle, and fencing.
He loved the camaraderie of hunting and the solitude of fishing, always bringing home quarry and catch.
They opened their home to many children over the years, hoping to inspire the ranch work ethic and an honest life.
Memorials are suggested to Peace Hospice.
Condolences may be posted online at www.chapelofchimesfunerals.com and/or www.gftribune.com/obituaries.
Published in Great Falls Tribune on Mar. 31, 2010