The Rev. Robert L. Grupp, 77, of Le Mars, died unexpectedly at his home Saturday, Aug.19, 2006.
Born Jan. 22, 1929, Robert Lee Grupp was the seventh child of Carl and Bess Grupp of Mason City, where he attended school, helped out in the family grocery business, and graduated high school in1946.
Robert Grupp attended Hamline University, St. Paul, Minn., and the University of Dubuque in Dubuque, graduating cum laude in 1950. He met his bride, Susan E. Lambert of Hastings, Iowa, at the University of Dubuque. They were married July 26, 1950, in the Methodist Church, Hastings, which was near the Lambert farm.
During his first year at the Theological Seminary of the University of Dubuque, he served as pastor of a Methodist parish in Cuba City, Wis., where a daughter, Elizabeth, was born to the Grupps.
In 1951, Robert and Susan Grupp were commissioned and sent as missionaries by the Midwest Evangelistic Association. They served a term with an orphanage and school in Ramallah, Palestine, 10 miles north of Jerusalem, at that time under the administration of the Hashemite Kingdom of the Jordan.
Returning to the U.S. in 1954, Rev. Grupp completed his seminary studies at Bethel Theological Seminary, St. Paul, and the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. He served as pastor at First Presbyterian Church, Hopkinton, Iowa, where, on Sept. 30, 1956, he was ordained a Minister of the Word and Sacrament in the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. While in Hopkinton, the Grupps welcomed their second child, Paul.
In August 1957, Rev. Grupp accepted a call to the pastorate of the First Presbyterian Church, Aurora, Ill.
In January 1962, Robert and Susan Grupp were commissioned for a five-year term of missionary service in Cairo, Egypt, by the Commission on Ecumenical Relations of the United Presbyterian Church (USA). The Grupps studied literary and colloquial Arabic at The American University in Cairo and worked with radio, film and television. Rev. Grupp founded the Christian Center for Audio-Visual Services, working closely with the Middle East Council of Churches.
Returning to the U.S. just before the outbreak of war in June 1967, the Grupps studied for a year at Indiana University: Susan Grupp in the Graduate Department of Music, and Robert Grupp in the Graduate Department of Film, Radio and Television.
After two more years serving in Egypt, they returned to the U.S. in June 1970. Rev. Grupp accepted a call to the pastorate of Faith Presbyterian Church, Minnetonka, Minn., where he served until 1978, when he accepted the position of Executive Director of the Minneapolis Council of Camp Fire. During that period, he also studied in the Graduate School of Psychology at the University of Minnesota.
In 1982, Rev. Grupp came to Le Mars, to pastor the Presbyterian United Church of Christ, and in January 1994, he took retirement. As a member of his denomination's Twin Cities Area Presbytery, Blackhawk Presbytery, and Prospect Hills Presbytery, he served terms as vice-moderator and then moderator of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, which serves a six-state area.
For many years, Rev. Grupp served as Executive Director of Evangelical Homes for Children, Inc., which strives to meet the educational and emotional needs of Palestinian children.
A member of Rotary International, past-president of the Rotary Club of Hopkins, Minn., and a Paul Harris fellow, Robert Grupp also served on the City of Le Mars Civil Service Commission, as president of the Le Mars Community Enhancement Corporation, as the first board president of the Le Mars United Way, and on the Friends of the Le Mars Library in its earliest years.
Since 1983, Rev. Grupp has presented a daily radio series called "Insights" on Le Mars radio station KLEM. After retirement, he continued his broadcasts, and served part-time on the KLEM news staff.
Also since 1983, he has written a weekly column for the Le Mars Daily Sentinel.
That same year, a small group of men of the church gathered for Lenten Bible studies under Rev. Grupp's leadership. That early gathering grew to become the weekly ecumenical Men's Fellowship Breakfast, which Rev. Grupp continued to lead after his retirement.
In 1986, Robert Grupp founded Life Design, a publishing and marketing entity devoted to producing and distributing Christian materials that are "loyal to the Word of God and relevant to whole reality."
Rev. Grupp's writings include training manuals for confirmation and church leadership, interpretive materials on the sacraments, and Biblical plays and Christmas programs. His published books include: "The Tracks of God," "Reality and Relevance: Commentaries on Abundant Life," and "What Matters," a collection of his writings for the Le Mars Daily Sentinel.
Until his death, Rev. Grupp was in the pulpit of St. John's United Church of Christ, near Peterson.
He also was a sales representative with Bankers Advertising Company, throughout northwest Iowa.
The Rev. Robert L. Grupp's survivors include: his wife Susan, of Le Mars; their two children: daughter Elizabeth of Chengdu, Sichuan, China, and son Paul of Albany, N.Y.; and eight grandchildren: Mackenzie Searles of Forest Grove, Ore., McCleary Searles of Chengdu, Sichuan, China, and Elena, Andrew, Theresa, Storm, Maire, and Robin Grupp of South Bend, Ind. He is survived by two sisters: Ruth Snyder of Mason City and Mary Grupp of Swansea, Wales, UK, and three brothers: Dick Grupp of La Jolla, Calif., Don Grupp of Minneapolis, Minn., and Carl Grupp, Jr. of Mason City.
A Celebration of Life Service will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25, at the Calvin Christian Reformed Church in Le Mars. The Rev. Dale Fopma and the Rev. Brian Jannsen will officiate. A private family burial will take place at Memorial Cemetery in Le Mars.
Memorials and expressions of sympathy will be directed to Emmanuel House and Evangelical Homes for Children.
Additional information may be found at www.mauerjohnsonfh.com.