Betty Jean Ross Gruenberg died on July 22, 2020, with family at her side in Claremore.
Born on Nov. 4, 1929, to Jack and Cleo Cabe Ross in Wewoka, Betty grew up in Tahlequah, graduating from Tahlequah High School in 1947. She went on to receive both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from Northeastern State University. She continued to support her alma mater on the alumni association, serving as president in 1987 and being named Alumnus of the Year in 1991.
Betty met Charles Lee Gruenberg at church, and they married on June 8, 1957. They moved to Tulsa and raised two sons – Robert, born in 1958, and Paul, born in 1961. An educator for nearly her entire adult life, “Mrs. G” became a full-time substitute teacher for Tulsa Public Schools, and she served the district for 31 years. The Gruenbergs were members of Boston Avenue United Methodist and Asbury United Methodist Church.
Charlie and Betty delighted in their six grandchildren, and they moved to Claremore in 1998 to be closer to them. As Betty herself said:
“Recitals, football games, and baseball games, all over the country. Basketball games and anything one of them became involved in.
It all started when our boys were involved in many activities, while they were growing up and in school. For Charlie, whenever a fishing or hunting trip was mentioned he was the first one ready to go with our sons and/or grandsons.
Our answer to those that asked ‘why do you do this, don't you get tired not doing something you like?’ This is what we like, our hobby, and we love it. Just try to keep us away. Even after Charlie's passing, I continued to follow which ever one was playing, no matter where, as long as I was able.”
Her children and grandchildren would tell you they knew how much they were loved – that they could always count on Grammy to be anywhere where she could cheer them on, to bake them a German chocolate pound cake for their birthdays, to let them spend the night (and stay up late). They will remember the stacks of photo albums she kept and carefully labeled for each grandchild, the way she cut the cinnamon toast into perfect squares and sat without complaint to witness every stage show, backyard baseball game or jump off the diving board. If it was important to them, it was important to her. She taught them the importance of reading and of education as a whole. Most of all, they would tell you she was a steady, constant presence in their lives, and they may never get used to a world without her in it.
Betty was preceded in death by her husband, her parents and her daughter-in-law, Shea Smith Gruenberg.
She is survived by her sons Robert and wife Victoria, and Paul and wife Heather, both of Claremore, her brother Kelly Ross of Tahlequah, and her grandchildren: Natalie and husband Mark Haggard of Jenks, Brock and wife Jordan Gruenberg of Mustang, Ross and wife Amanda Gruenberg of Broken Arrow, Cameron and wife Jessie Gruenberg of Colorado Springs, Colo., Blake and wife Erika Gruenberg of Nashville, Tenn., Paige Gruenberg of Claremore, and Chase Morgan of Claremore. She would especially want to mention her great-grandchildren: Kaylynn Gruenberg, Emily Haggard, Davee Gruenberg, Ella Gruenberg, Charlotte Haggard and Sullivan Gruenberg.
Betty’s family will honor her privately but encourages you to share your memories. In lieu of flowers, Betty requested you donate to the Make-a-Wish Foundation or St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
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