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Chuck Grunau

November 18, 1954 — December 12, 2023

Wichita

Chuck Grunau

Charles “Chuck” Kent Grunau (11/8/1954 - 12/12/2023)

On December 12, 2023, Charles Kent Grunau, known by most folks as “Chuck,” made himself a delicious crockpot roast. But as he sat down to eat, he was suddenly called away on urgent business somewhere outside the confines of his body. Chuck always hated being interrupted during dinner, and one can imagine he wasn’t thrilled to go. But as a man seldom known to shirk a job when he knew he was needed, he consented to move along and embark on his next grand adventure into the great beyond.

Chuck was born in Clinton, Oklahoma, on November 8, 1954. Two days later, he was welcomed into the loving arms of Allen and LeOra Grunau, who gratefully and lovingly adopted him. The Grunau family settled in Hillsboro, Kansas, where Chuck spent most of his formative years alongside his sister, Patrice Brown.

Chuck’s love for music blossomed from a young age, nurtured by his parent’s involvement in the church choir and his mother’s piano and pipe organ talent. Summers brought joyous gatherings at Ratzlaff camp, where Chuck’s passion for harmonies and family bonds grew deeper. Chuck was a natural tinkerer, finding joy in disassembling and reassembling gadgets and machinery. This skill would serve him well throughout his life.

One of Chuck’s defining traits was his insatiable curiosity. When he was just ten and living in Lawrence, Chuck entertained himself by exploring KU’s campus, including the catwalks above Allen Fieldhouse, where he watched the basketball team practice. He also enjoyed sneaking past the guard at the Kansas Capitol and scaring the bejesus out of himself by climbing up the narrow stairs that led up to and out of the top of the Capitol dome. As a teenager back in Hillsboro, he turned his focus to mischievous antics and memorable pranks. To that end, he firmly maintained that he didn’t know about the ammunition hidden in the stolen outhouse they dumped in the middle of town and set on fire. No one was hurt. And no one was caught. A great success!

Despite his playful nature, Chuck’s parents instilled in him the values of hard work, determination, and compassion. He graduated from Hillsboro High School in 1973 after a four-year career as a star on the Hillsboro Trojan basketball team. In his early twenties, he moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to begin working for Continental Airlines. Chuck loved airplanes and learned to fly, piloting a yellow Piper Cub. He enjoyed identifying aircraft flying overhead, reminding others to look ahead of where the sound comes from to spot them.

In 1978, he married and started a family. One of the great joys of his life came from this marriage: his daughter, Jacqueline. Chuck’s professional journey led him to Denver, where he established his own printing business following the bankruptcy of Continental Airlines in 1983. In 1986, following his divorce, life took him back to Hillsboro, where he maintained close connections with his parents and friends and helped to raise his daughter.

Chuck instilled in his daughter the love of a good adventure and the joy of simple things. They often enjoyed a weekend drive, where he and Jacqueline sought the thrill of getting lost and finding their way again. And they flew kites together, grounding themselves in the prairie’s smells and the wind’s whistle against the kite strings. His love for learning and exploring the world around him knew no bounds.

In his fifties, Chuck discovered audio engineering and stagecraft. He watched and listened to others, tried and failed, and eventually taught himself the trade. It was his joy to pass these skills on by teaching countless new stagehands the craft. His stagehand community was incredibly important to him, both professionally and personally. He cared deeply about the people with whom he worked and worked hard and intentionally to create a sense of community and improve folks’ lives when and where he could.  

In Chuck’s passing, he leaves behind cherished memories, lessons of resilience, an enduring legacy of love, and plants. So many plants. Though his earthly journey has ended, his spirit lives on in the hearts of all who knew him.

Chuck is survived by his sister, Patrice Brown; his daughter, Jacqueline Grunau and her husband Will Averill; his grandson, Oliver Averill; and his loving family, friends, and community members whose lives he touched with his kindness and infectious laughter. He will be deeply missed and fondly remembered as a beloved father, brother, and friend. Donations in honor of his memory can be made to his grandson Oliver Averill’s education fund.

A celebration of life will take place at 2 p.m. on April 11, 2024, at Exhibition Hall at Century II in Wichita, KS. He will be interred at a later date at Clements Cemetery in Chase County, KS.

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Starts at 2:00 pm (Central time)

Exhibition Hall at Century II

225 W Douglas Ave, Wichita, KS 67202

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