Robert Grulke

Memorial Service

10:30 am
Saturday, May 14, 2022
Memorial United Methodist Church
2935 Sheridan Rd.
Zion, Illinois, United States

Obituary of Robert Gustav Grulke

Robert “Bob” Gustav Grulke, 87, passed away peacefully at his home on April 26, 2022 surrounded by family, four weeks shy of his eighty-eighth birthday. He was born May 19, 1934 to Herbert and Ruth Grulke in Kenosha, WI. Bob’s family moved to Zion, IL in his early years to be part of the Christian Catholic Church and to help work the Murdoch family gardens and floral shop. His school years were spent at Lakeview School and Zion-Benton High School, class of ‘52. He married his high school sweetheart, Elizabeth Anne Solberg at the Memorial United Methodist Church in Zion, IL on August 22, 1953. Bob graduated from the University of Illinois in Champaign, IL with a Civil Engineering degree and then he and his young family headed to California, “to build bridges” as he often told us. The family made many moves around the country with Bob working as a civil engineer for the US Navy and then settled in Winthrop Harbor, IL later in his career to work at Glenview Naval Station and Naval Station Great Lakes. Retiring after 30 years with the government, he kept busy working at the Anderson Apple Orchard and Precision Roofing, Inc both in Zion, IL. A lifelong member of the Methodist churches in Zion and Winthrop Harbor his faith was a cornerstone of his life. He served on many church boards over the years and could often be found working at the church. Celebrating Christmas Eve wasn’t complete unless “Santa Bob” came bringing gifts for everyone. Bob was a good, honest, hardworking man of integrity and friend to many. People knew him for his tireless work in the local communities. He was elected to several terms on the Zion Benton High School school board and served several years as President. He was a member of the Rotary Club of North Chicago and then cofounder of the Illinois Beach Sunrise Rotary Club, serving many years as the President of the Club. A highlight of his life was the student exchange programs with American Field Service (AFS) and Rotary Clubs, hosting over 30 students from around the world throughout the years. He and his wife then traveled the world to visit the families of many of the students they had become close to; they have quite the collection of flags representing each of the student’s home countries. He was also a member of the International Rotarian Golf Fellowship and played on courses around the world, served on the Board of Directors for Windy Tots Playschool and Day Care Center and volunteered hours to give tours and share his knowledge of Zion history at the Shiloh House in Zion, IL. Bob had a love of the outdoors, sports, traveling, gardening, working with his hands and building things. Some of his favorite memories were of ski trips to the Colorado mountains with family and visiting friends who lived there. He continued to tend a small piece of his family’s flower garden in Zion until his health failed. He lost his hair in his twenties, a bald head his signature look; but never lost his generous, beaming, infectious, sometimes mischievous smile or willingness to go for coffee and doughnuts. He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Elizabeth “Liz” Grulke, four daughters, Terryl (Joe) Rajcevich of Waukegan, IL; Mollie Grulke Mercado of Winthrop Harbor, IL; Tracey Nixon of Antioch, IL; Meganne (Tom) Pierson of Bristol, WI; 10 grandchildren; 11 great grandchildren; and one sister Sally (L. Nate) Naden of Gurnee, IL. He was preceded in death by his parents; brothers Herbert Grulke and Roger Grulke; and an infant granddaughter Sarah Pierson. A memorial service will be held on May 14, 2022 at 10:30 am at the Memorial United Methodist Church, 2935 Sheridan Road Zion, IL. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Memorial United Methodist Church (M.U.M.C.) or Illinois Beach Sunrise Rotary Club are appreciated. Please visit the online guest book at for more details. Service livestream,
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