Medical problem suspected in Valpo woman’s crash into Hobart lake
By Carole Carlson email@example.com September 12, 2013 8:22PM
Shirley Gronlund | Photo provided/Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 15, 2013 7:23AM
Shirley Gronlund had a passion for education, church and, most of all, her family.
Gronlund, 83, who died Wednesday after her car crashed through a fence and into Lake George in Hobart, was remembered Thursday as a devoted parent and grandparent, and as a longtime active member at Augustana Lutheran Church.
Her family said the cause of death has not been announced by the Lake County Coroner’s Office, but a medical problem is suspected. Family members said they were told Mrs. Gronlund did not drown and likely died from a medical complication. She was en route to Augustana for a meeting from her Valparaiso home when the accident happened.
Witnesses said they saw her driving erratically before heading west on Front Street and into Lake George, near the library.
Her funeral is set for 1 p.m. Sunday at Augustana Lutheran, 207 N. Kelly St. The visitation is from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday at the church.
“She was a thoroughly good person in a joyful and generous way,” the Rev. Charles Strietelmeier said. “She was a stalwart member of the choir and at every congregation dinner, her rice pudding was reliably sought out.”
Mrs. Gronlund grew up in Chicago, graduating from South Shore High School where she was senior class president in 1948.
She and husband, Byron Gronlund, moved to Hobart in 1954 and the couple had three daughters. Mrs. Gronlund worked as a grocery store cashier and studied education at Indiana University Northwest where she received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She taught fifth grade for more than 20 years at Liberty Elementary School in Hobart.
Her son-in-law, Mike Ritter of Portage, said his in-laws would call each family member on their birthday and sing a beautiful two-part harmony “Happy Birthday.” He said he now wishes he would have kept one of those voice mails.
Ritter said Mrs. Gronlund firmly believed in the importance of attending church each Sunday.
“If we played hooky, she’d find some reason to call us on Sunday and make us feel bad,” Ritter said.
Mrs. Gronlund and her husband would have celebrated their 64th anniversary Sept. 26.
In addition to three daughters, she is survived by 13 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.