Herbert Marshall Gruen
August 14, 1944 – February 13, 2021
We mourn the passing of a truly great man: Herbert Marshall Gruen passed away at the age of 76, on February 13, 2021, in Austin, Texas, with his wife at his side, and his family on the phone. He is preceded in death by his parents, Frank and Mary Katharine Gruen (neé Schliesing), and by his sister, Katharine Gruen Nichols.
Born in San Antonio in 1944, the youngest of three children, Herb had a happy childhood in a large loving family that included aunts, uncles and cousins. He was a happy, cherished, slightly mischievous child, who loved his family, fishing, practical jokes, hunting, milk with fresh cream on the top, San Antonio and his Country. Throughout his life he reveled in the memories of his childhood—recalling with joy seeing Santa Claus with his brother, putting his sister’s boyfriend’s VW sideways in the drive, drag racing on the streets, playing tricks on the Brothers who taught him at Central Catholic High School or collecting gorilla droppings for the scavenger hunt at his fraternity at St Mary’s University.
In 1960, at age 16, he went to work for his father at Flasher Equipment Co. which his dad had founded in 1956 as a full-service traffic control barricade rental company. His first job was to change the batteries in the blinking lights that were then the newest alternative to a smudge pot. He worked at Flasher his entire life and brought the company, the City and the State innovation after innovation in the pavement marking and traffic control business—from the transition from painted signs to the modern retroreflective sign sheeting; and from chlorinated rubber paint to thermoplastic markings. Flasher Equipment Company is now one of San Antonio’s major employers and, with its recent move to the restored Levi Strauss plant on Highway 90, also an anchor in the regeneration of an entire section of town.
In 1991, Herb, with his father, founded Impact Recovery Systems, helping to engineer a spring- activated reboundable work zone safety device containing an information panel, with the intent to reduce his workers’ exposure to traffic and hopefully save lives. With the help of his partner Greg Hannah and with specialized focus on innovative traffic control solutions, Impact is now an internationally recognized company, whose proprietary offerings are installed along roadways from Boerne to Belgium and in factories from UPS to Space X. In January, Impact opened a new office/warehouse in Aarschot Be. to service their many European Union customers.
Herb’s work and reputation was admired and recognized nationwide. Herb was honored for his achievements by his peers in the trade association, the American Traffic Safety Services Association, with their Industry Achievement Award in 2015.
For all of his great achievements, Herb was a man of great humility with true generosity of spirit. He cared about his business but more important he cared about the people who made up his business. The first to listen to the concerns of his people, to lend a hand where needed, his objective was never just to make money, but to provide for his family, his people, his state. For all that he was a genius and a visionary, he never wanted credit or applause: when commended, he would say, “I have really good people with me.”
He was a great friend, a great partner, a wonderful father and a magnificent husband. If you were lucky to be among his people, you know him as “Herbie”; he was funny, loving, and devoted. In work and in life, he never did anything half-way, or on a small scale. Everything Herb did was larger than life which his family called “Herbie-sized”. From steaks, to cars, to the new sign at Flasher Equipment Company, if he was going to do it, it was going to be the best, and, likely, the biggest. Herbie’s heart was every bit as big as this aesthetic, and this generosity is his legacy. His heart was, truly, Herbie-sized.
Herb Gruen’s light is kept in his absence by his wife and partner of over 20 years Amanda Birrell Gruen, by his daughters Christye Gruen and Yvonne Gruen Estrada and her husband Erik Estrada, by his grandchildren Bradley Grice and Izabelle Grice, by his stepdaughter Elizabeth Tigar, his brother Frank Gruen and his extended family of cousins, nieces and nephews, in-laws and beloved friends.
Services will be held 10 am on Tuesday March 9, 2021, at St. Matthew Catholic Church on 10703 Wurzbach Rd. in San Antonio. There will be a viewing at St Matthews beginning at 8:45 on the morning of March 9. The service will be live streamed on the Cook-Walden Funeral Home facebook site, www.facebook.com/CookWaldenFuneralHome. In lieu of flowers, we ask that donations be made to the Teresian Sisters of San Antonio, 206 Beechwood Lane, San Antonio, TX 78216 or to the Heart Hospital of Austin, 3801 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78756.
9:00 am - 10:00 am
St. Matthew Catholic Church
10:00 am - 11:00 am
St. Matthew Catholic Church
Holy Cross Cemetery- Mausoleum Chapel
Herbert Marshall Gruen
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February 22, 2021
I am deeply saddened for your loss.
Herbie will be sorely missed. Amanda, Elizabeth, Christye, Yvonne, Erik, Bradley, Izzy, Frank Gruen family and Lee and Curt.........
Know that you are in my thoughts and prayers always.
Herbie touched MANY lives in wonderful ways and for that we are BLESSED. Cling to the fond memories and all the times he made you LAUGH....he was good at that.
Hugs, love n prayers 🙏☝️💕