Rev. Dr. John Victor Gronli passed peacefully into God’s arms on October 23, 2017, at Ecumen Bethany Community in Alexandria.
A memorial service will be held 11 a.m., Tuesday, October 31, 2017, at First Lutheran Church in Alexandria with Rev. Greg Billberg officiating. Music is provided by organist, Randy Morken and vocalist, John Hokanson. Inurnment will take place at the Kinkead Cemetery Columbarium, Alexandria.
Visitation is one hour prior to the service at the church.
John was born in Eshowe, Natal, South Africa to missionary parents John Einer and Marjorie (Hawker) Gronli on September 11, 1932. He was baptized by his father on November 7, 1932. As a young child, he moved with his family to Minneapolis, MN. His Christian faith was confirmed on October 31, 1945, at the age of 13.
John attended Deephaven High School, St. Olaf College, and the University of Minnesota. He graduated with a BA from the U of MN in 1953. He was a life-long learner, obtaining his Master of Divinity from Luther Seminary in 1958, an MA from Pacific Lutheran University in 1975, and his Doctorate of Ministry from Luther Northwestern Theological Seminary in 1978. Additional studies were completed at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Northern Montana College, and Marquette University.
John and Jeanne (Ellertson) were smitten with each other in high school in Deephaven. Even though Jeanne moved away to California, they were able to keep in touch, and both enrolled in St. Olaf College after graduation. They were married on September 15, 1952. In the midst of schooling, internship, graduation, and job relocations, they welcomed five children into the world: Cheryl, Deborah, Timothy, Peter and Daniel.
John’s parish ministry began with his ordination on March 9, 1958. He had interned in Wilsall, MT and then served parishes in Brockett-Lawton (ND), Harlowton-Barber-Lennep (MT), Shelby (MT) and Sidney (MT). From 1976-1985 he worked at Golden Valley Lutheran College (MN) where he taught theology, Biblical studies and communications. He served as the Dean of Students and Chair of the Department of Philosophy while at GVLC. Even after retirement, John continued ministering in an interim capacity. He had a keen interest in mission work and served on numerous church and community boards and task forces.
Retirement years were spent at Canyon Haven in Montana, a place loved dearly by both John and Jeanne. While there, they started a retreat center, a place for groups to come for spiritual renewal. John was also able to travel to Norway & England as well as South America, China, and Africa (several times). Worsening memory issues made it necessary to relocate once again. They moved in 2015 to Windmill Ponds in Alexandria, MN and have greatly appreciated getting to know this community.
John was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Olav; son, John Timothy Gronli; and son-in-law, Joel Hokanson.
He is survived by his wife, Jeanne of Windmill Ponds in Alexandria; four children, Cheryl Mundt of Ocean Shores, Washington, Deb Hokanson (Bill Kaczrowski) of Miltona, Pete Gronli of San Luis Obispo, California, and Dan Gronli (Terry) of Brooklyn Park; 12 grandchildren, Melissa Mundt, Miranda Mundt, David Hokanson, Joanna Klapperick, John Hokanson, Shanlee Davis, Josh Gronli, Micah Gronli, Mikaila Norman, Eric Gronli, Kayla Knutson and Jordan Gronli; and 11 great-grandchildren: August, Arthur, Cora, Connor, Hawken, Thayden, Sierra, Jaelyn, John Thomas, Owen and Teddy.
He will be remembered for his wisdom, his quick wit and sense of humor, and his deep faith. Memorials preferred to Hospice of Douglas County or charity of choice.
Urnbearers are his children.
Hospice of Douglas County
809 Elm St Suite #1200, Alexandria MN 56308