Obituary for David L Grunes

In Loving Memory of a Wonderful father and husband.

David L. Grunes, 87, died April 19, 2009 at Kendal at Ithaca, after a long illness. Born in 1921 in Paterson, New Jersey to Gussie and Jacob Grunes, a silk weaver, he lost his mother when he was only three, and was reared by two aunts and his stepmother. Unable to afford college, he worked a year at odd jobs until awarded a scholarship by Rutgers University. His World War II draft board deferred him until he graduated because he was the only man from his neighborhood attending college. He earned a B.S. in Preparation for Agricultural Research, served in the U.S. Army, and then went to graduate school at the U. of California at Berkeley on the G.I. Bill. While earning his PhD in Soil Science and living at International House, he met and married Willa Freeman, a graduate student in psychology.

In 1950, David accepted a research job with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture at the Northern Great Plains Field Station in Mandan, North Dakota. During the next fourteen years, the couple had three children and David published many papers on basic soil chemistry research. He spent an academic year working at Colorado State University and another in Israel with the International Atomic Energy Agency of the U.N. In 1964, he joined the U.S. Plant, Soil, and Nutrition Laboratory on the Cornell campus, working even after retiring in 1996.

His many honors included a courtesy appointment to the Cornell Dept. of Agronomy, retiring as professor emeritus, having mentored graduate students of whom he was very proud. In 1991, he was named Senior Scientist of the Year by the U.S. Agricultural Research Service, for work that significantly reduced cattle deaths from grass and wheat pasture tetany. He was respected internationally and traveled to many countries to cooperate with other scientists. He was noted for exceptional integrity, kindness, and sweetness of disposition.

He is survived by Willa, his wife of nearly 60 years; sons Lee of Portland, Oregon and Mitchell of College Park, Maryland; daughter Rima of Ithaca; daughter-in-law Susan Nolte; and granddaughter Julie Grunes of Tigard, Oregon. He was also the unofficial “Grandpa” of the family of Michael and Virginia Griffin and their children, Paige and Samuel, all of Fairport.

A celebration of life was held in the auditorium of Kendal at Ithaca at 2:30pm on Thursday, May 28, followed by a reception at 325 Savage Farm Drive. Memorial donations may be sent to the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, or a charity of donor's choice.

Pictures and Memories from wife Willa
Pictures and Memories from son Lee
Pictures from son Mitch
"Philosophy as Demonstrated by My Father" from daughter Rima
Pictures from daughter in law Susan Nolte
Pictures from cousin Carla Nochomovitz
Work picture sent by colleague Jon Schaff

Memorial Service Videos
HQ Version (extremely slow download)

Day of Memorial Service Videos
HQ Version (extremely slow download)