Gruenke, Bernard Otto Of Brookfield, called by the Lord to Eternal Life on March 31, 2012, at the age of 99. Beloved husband of the late Mary Anne (nee Sprangers) Gruenke. Cherished father of Bernard Eugene (Diane) Gruenke, Anne (Harry) Konczal and Jeanette "Janie" Gruenke. Loving grandfather of Chris Kosmicki, the late Daniel Kosmicki, Heidi (Curt) Emery, David (Chris) Huebner, Kim (Steve) Silber, Aaron (An) Huebner, Gunar (Leslie) Gruenke, Marianne Huebner and Paul (Amy) Kosmicki; and great-grandfather of 14 great-grandchildren. Also remembered by other family and friends. He was preceded in death by 2 sisters and 4 brothers. Bernard, born in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, was an American stained glass artist who produced one of the first faceted (Dalle de Verre) glass windows in the United States in 1949. Bernard began his art studios at the Layton School of Art, then at age sixteen, was encouraged in his pursuit by Miss Marie Kohler who provided him a scholarship in 1929 to the Corcoran Art School in Washington D.C. He also studied under Caesar Riccardi in Philadelphia. Gruenke joined Conrad Schmitt Studios in 1936, working closely with the founder, Conrad Schmitt. In the late 1940s, Gruenke became Rupert Schmitt's partner and following Rupert's death in 1951, he purchased the renowned national art studio from the Schmitt estate and went on to provide murals, stained glass, interior design and decorative paintings for thousands of churches, synagogues, theatres and public buildings throughout the United States. Gruenke's, efforts to create and advance art glass were recognized by the Stained Glass Association of America (SGAA) over the years. A member since 1936, he served as Vice President of the SGAA and was named a Fellow in 1972. In 1996, Gruenke was honored with the SGAA's Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1980, an honorary degree was conferred upon Gruenke by Mount Mary College in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin: Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa. Bernard, also affectionately known as "Senior" was an excellent swimmer and scuba diver. He enjoyed his summers in Crystal Lake in Plymouth, Wisconsin. He was an avid sheepshead player and enjoyed his weekly card game with "the boys." Visitation Tuesday, April 3, 2012, at the Funeral Home from 4PM until the 7PM Vigil Service. Mass of Christian Burial Wednesday, April 4, at 11AM, at St. John Vianney Catholic Church, 1755 N. Calhoun Rd., Brookfield. Private entombment at Holy Cross Cemetery, Sheboygan. In lieu of flowers, memorials to St. John Vianney Church, Brookfield; or The Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians at Holy Hill, appreciated.
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Published in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel from April 1 to April 4, 2012