Monday, September 8, 2014

Starr Wenzel Gruner (1878-1951)

From the Coldwater Pictorial City Directory, 1927.

   A one term Mayor of Coldwater, Michigan, Starr Wenzel Gruner is also one of the first veterans of the Spanish-American War to warrant a profile here on the site, as he saw action in Cuba in July of 1898. After relocating to California in the mid-1920s Gruner continued to be active in various aspects of public life, being the operator of a clothing store as well as a member of the Santa Barbara City Council.
    The son of German immigrants, Starr Wenzel Gruner was born in Coldwater on August 30, 1878, being one of seven children born to Wenzel and Emily Randall Gruner. Young Starr is noted as having grown up on a farm in Coldwater and would attend the local high school between 1891-1896 and earned his high school diploma. Following his graduation he took an extended visit to Germany, remaining here for about a year. With the dawn of the Spanish American War in 1898 Gruner did his patriotic duty and signed on for service in the Thirty-Third Michigan Infantry. He was deployed to Cuba and participated in the Battle of Acquadores and Battle of Santiago.
   After being mustered out of service at Owosso, Michigan, Gruner returned to his home in Coldwater and on June 1, 1899 married there to Ms. Lena Teachout, with the couple being childless through the entirety of their marriage. For a good majority of his life, Starr Gruner worked at farming in Coldwater, being the proprietor of an eighty-acre farm on land which had been "cleared by his father."Gruner was also a partner in the Coldwater based haberdashery of Sloman and Gruner beginning in 1912. In addition to business and farming Gruner was a Captain General in the Jacob's Commandery, No. 10 of the Knights Templar.
   In April 1918 Starr W. Gruner won election as the Mayor of Coldwater, defeating Democratic nominee Rev. S.W.L. Scott. He would be returned to the Mayor's office in the election of 1920 and served until the expiration of his term in 1921. A few years later he left the clothier business and removed to Santa Barbara, California in 1925, the basis for his removal being the result of a "messy divorce".
   Once settled, Gruner began to establish his name in the Santa Barbara business community. He would start up another clothing business in this city and also took an active role in the local American Legion chapter, serving as post treasurer. He would also make a return to politics in 1927, being elected as a member of the Santa Barbara City Council. Gruner was also noted as a keen genealogist, even going as far as to trace his family lineage back over four hundred years. 
  Starr Gruner died of a stroke at the Los Angeles Veteran's Hospital on August 17, 1951, two weeks short of his 73rd birthday. He had been preceded in death by his second wife Miriam in April 1935 and both were interred at the Santa Barbara Cemetery. In an interesting twist, this cemetery also happens to be the resting place of former Santa Barbara mayor Clio Lowell Lloyd, who was profiled here back on March 4th of this year.

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