ROCHESTER, Ind. - Retired Master Sgt. Donald J Groleau, 75, of Rochester was surrounded by his loving family when he passed away at Woodlawn Hospital on Friday, July 13.
Don was born on Aug. 5, 1936, as the twin son of Edward and Jereta Clement Groleau. Growing up he shared his childhood with four brothers, twin Ron, Warren, Joel and Pat. Don and his brothers grew up near Nahma, a town near the size of Talma situated in God's country on the threshold of Hiawatha National Forest. In the depths of logging country, Don's dad taught the boys the art of cutting wood. He also taught them techniques of hunting and how to live off the land. It was during this time that Don acquired the stealth work ethic that he maintained throughout his lifetime.
Don was a proud graduate with his Nahma High School class of 1954. Gifted with athleticism, he started as the flashy, play-making point guard, the floor general of the basketball team. NHS was the Central Upper Peninsula League Conference Champions in 1951 and 1952.
Donald J. Groleau
Living the dream, his senior year in high school, Don and two of his brothers helped lead the Nahma team to the high school state championship. A memorable feat for the small town athletes, the Groleau boys were a force to be reckoned with on the hardwoods. His abilities were noticed by scouts. This led him to opportunities of full-ride scholarships to colleges and universities, but Don elected to pursue enlistment with the U.S. Air Force, an avenue that led to his career. After service of 34 years, eight months and eight days, Don retired, earning the rank of master sergeant.
After retiring from the Air Force in 1994, Don enjoyed a variety of stints of employment, including Oxford Automotive and Gaerte Engines. Most recently, many will remember his pleasant smile and positive demeanor as a sales associate welcoming customers to Rochester Ford for nearly eight years.
Embracing the outdoors, Don looked forward to joining his brothers for hunting trips to northern Michigan. An avid golfer, Don embraced the challenging courses of Mill Creek and the Nahma Golf Course. He collected golf balls from the water hazard areas and either used them or sold them to fellow golfers. An armchair athlete, Don was loyal to the University of Michigan, Michigan State, and Detroit's Pistons, Tigers and Lions.
More recently, Don was the unofficial greeter at Edie's Styling Salon. He and Edie enjoyed playing bingo in Peru and heading to Blue Chip and the Fourwinds. The couple's favorite travel locale of warmth was Cancun. They enjoyed dining out at the DQ, Applebee's and Chili's and, only when Edie convinced Don, to Red Lobster.
Don is remembered for his wonderful sense of humor, twinkling ornery eyes and gregarious smile. He loved to tell jokes and pull pranks on the unsuspecting, like setting off the cherry bomb in the toilet. He was known for wearing his pocket shirts loaded with cigars and a single pen.
Thoroughly enjoying his role as the patriarch of the Groleau clan, overseeing four generations, Don enjoyed taking the kids and grandchildren on speed boat rides, skiing and tubing on the sparkling waters of Lake Manitou. There were memorable camping trips to Jellystone, Yogi Bear and Mississinewa, under the starlit skies on warm summer nights. Sunday morning brought the newspapers, loaded with coupons. With scissors at his side, Don clipped the coupons and, with great enthusiasm, shared them with his children, reminding them of items he thought they might need.
May brought the Indy 500, an annual event. Don and Edie threw a huge 500 party second to none. Don especially loved shopping for his family and hosting holiday and birthday celebrations. He always had a huge tender spot for the new babies that arrived in his family, enjoying the blessing of each and every one.
Don is lovingly remembered by his wife, Edith "Edie"; seven daughters, Debbie Vance Bock and husband Heshy, Rochester, Tammy Newlin and husband Joe, Silver Lake, Suzie Simonson and husband Bret, Nixa, Mo., Donna Groleau and companion Tom Waite, Mesa, Ariz., Mitzi Anderson and husband Andy, Rochester, Karen Huffman and husband Donald, Avon, and Valerie Tolley, Noblesville; two sons, Gary Flook and wife Linda, Peru, and Robbie Flook and wife Kathy, Rochester; four brothers, his twin Ronald "Ron" Groleau and wife Carolyn, Port Joe Beach, Fla., Warren Groleau and wife Christine, Joel Groleau and wife Kathy, all of Rapid River, and Pat Groleau and wife Dani, Nahma; grandchildren, Derrick Vance and fiancee Amy Meiser and son Xavier, Courtney and Matt Williams, Jessica Perdieu and children Austin, Justin and Kendahl, Allie Simonson and fiancee Nick Wright, Kirk Simonson and companion Ashley Dempster, Jimmy Waite, Mike Waite, Lacy Barnes and her children Cayden and Ryland, Billy Anderson and his daughter Savannah, Justin Anderson, William "W. P." and Chris Wolfe and their children Annmarie, Tommy, and Jordan, Jeffrey Wolfe and daughter Hailey, Stephen and Katie Howell and their children Maddie, Hunter and Stevie, Toni and Jeff Hoover and their daughters Morgan and Mallory, Samantha and Josh Musall and their children Joshlynn, Joshua, Laney and Lake, Brian and Annie Flook and their sons Devin and Ian, Jeremy, Jacob and Jichaela Flook; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins also survive. Don and his family are expecting the arrival of a new grandson in September.
Don was preceded in death by his parents and a precious infant daughter, Mary Jacqueline.
A celebration of the life of Retired Master Sgt. Donald J. Groleau will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 17, at Good Family Funeral Home, Rochester.
He will be laid to eternal rest at Rochester's IOOF Cemetery.
Friends may visit with his family from 4-8 p.m. Monday and one hour prior to the service.
Memorials in lieu of flowers may be made to the Riley Children's Hospital or the American Diabetes Association. You may sign Don's guestbook or light a candle to honor his memory at www.goodfamilyfh.com.