Glen Abbey Memorial Park & Mortuary

3838 Bonita Road, Bonita, CA


Ervin Joseph Gruntorad

June 21, 1930October 30, 2019
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Ervin Joseph Gruntorad passed away peacefully on October 30, 2019 after an extended illness. He was born in Elm Creek, Nebraska on June 21, 1930 to Henry Joseph Gruntorad and Susie Kathryn (Thinnes) Gruntorad and was the second of 9 children born to this hard-working family of sharecroppers.

Ervin lived most of his early life in and around the Dawson County, Nebraska area; Elm Creek, Overton, and Lexington. Much to his father’s dismay, Ervin quit school in 9th grade because there were many mouths to feed.

Ervin was drafted in 1951 during the Korean War. Like many veterans of his generation, he rarely spoke of his time in the service. We were blessed, however, when we learned of the Veterans History Project, in which veterans are interviewed and their story lives on as part of the Library of Congress. One story he told during the interview was about how he “chose” his branch of service. There were 4 other local boys drafted at the same time; they thought they could all stay together if they chose the same branch. One thought the Marine Corps was the pick. Unfortunately, for Ervin, he was the only one of the group who was sent overseas. As he always recounted, it was the “longest 11 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days he ever had”.

Ervin returned to Lexington where he continued to farm with his dad and brothers.

It was in Lexington, driving past a one-room schoolhouse each day, where he spied a lovely schoolteacher named Lois Baker. They married on January 4, 1958 and immediately set off on their trek for a life that didn’t involve farming or brutally cold winters. They ended up in San Diego and made their home there for almost 20 years. While in San Diego, they were blessed with the birth of their daughter Susan. Ervin worked in the dairy industry, first with Foremost Foods, and then with both Arden Farms and Carnation.

In 1976, the dairy industry moved out of San Diego and the family moved to Lemoore, a small farming town in the Central Valley. It was here that Lois, Ervin, and Susan settled into a lovely home and made lifelong friends through their work in the community and church. After retiring from the dairy industry in Lemoore, Ervin could not sit still at home and took a job as foreman for the local cemetery.

Ervin was very active in the Kings County Marine Corps Detachment League, where he, along with Corky McFarlane and Bill Hatfield, played an integral part in the annual Avenue of the Flags Memorial Day Service at Grangeville Cemetery. He took great pride in this event every year. Another highlight of his life was having the opportunity to build several Habitat for Humanity houses alongside his hero, former President Jimmy Carter, on the annual Habitat for Humanity Work Project in LaGrange, Georgia in 2003.

Ervin was a self-less and devoted husband to Lois, especially after she underwent a life-saving kidney transplant. After retiring, they enjoyed countless trips to San Diego to visit Susan, along with travels to Arizona and Nebraska to visit family. Two of his favorite places to visit were Yosemite National Park and the central coast of California.

In 2013, his beloved Lois passed away. They had just celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary. Ervin continued to spend time in Lemoore working to make sure he had the best-looking yard in the neighborhood, taking care of his prized 1954 Chevy Bel Air, and working with his best friend, John Gordon. It was in 2015 when Ervin moved to San Diego to be closer to Susan and her husband Jeff.

During his last few years in San Diego, Ervin enjoyed spending time with his cherished (and VERY spoiled) dog, Bella, along with outings to the zoo, the Midway Museum, and of course, to see the giant horse at the Del Mar Fair each year. As Ervin’s health declined, he moved to Belmont Village, an assisted living facility, and was blessed with some wonderful caregivers that provided companionship to him.

Ervin was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Lois, stillborn babies James Stanley and Merry Ann, and his siblings: Agnes, Donald, Robert, Joseph and Hank. Ervin is survived by his daughter and son-in-law Susan and Jeff Balch, dog Bella, grand dog Torrey, sister Kathryn (Don) Lessig, sisters-in-law Luanne Williams, Karen Gruntorad, and Janice Bollish, numerous nieces and nephews, and his best friend, John Gordon.

We would like to thank the wonderful private caregivers that provided companionship to Ervin: Natalie Poland, Rita Hughes, Rita Avalos, Angel Carrasco, and Sergio Espinosa. We would also like to thank Dr. Andrew King, the wonderful staff of Belmont Village/Cardiff, Encinitas Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, and Seasons Hospice for their care of Ervin.

A memorial service will be held at 11:00 AM on Friday, November 22nd at the Little Chapel of the Roses at Glen Abbey Memorial Park, Bonita, CA. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Habitat for Humanity/Jimmy Carter Work Project, or the Veterans History Project.


22 November

Memorial Service

11:00 am

Glen Abbey's The Little Chapel of the Roses

3838 Bonita Road
Bonita, CA 91902

22 November

Inurnment Service

12:30 pm

Glen Abbey Memorial Park


3838 Bonita Road
Bonita, CA


Ervin Joseph Gruntorad

have a memory or condolence to add?

Karen Mueller

November 16, 2019

Ervin and the “Nifte54”

Jan Bollish

November 16, 2019

The first time I met Ervin was one weekend night when he came with Lois to our family farm at Ericson, Nebraska. I’m sure he was a little bit nervous, but I know mom and dad were too. Not many visits to the farm until later years when it was fun to go back to the old home place and kind of relive our memories. For Lois, there were many... and it was necessary that Ervin tag along... and Susan too. It was always a joy to see them all!

How is it possible to have two meticulous people in our family? Ervin always had his yard... grass, garden and flowers trimmed to perfection. Alfreda’s lawn was also neat and the railroad ties set just perfectly. She, Alfreda, would even have to stop every 15 minutes or so to pat down her hair.... she had one up on Ervin on this one as Ervin had no hair to pat down.

On one trip Alfreda and I made to Lemoore as we were nearing the village, Alfreda slipped off the edge of the road and down in some muddy water. Oh no. She was finally able to get back on the road and we continued on our way. Ervin took her car in the next morning to get it washed, and upon his return, said you would never believe the mud encrusted under that beautiful Cadillac.
I remember Ervin always ready to help like getting that car cleaned up again.
...I remember that Ervin’s car always looked like it had been washed shined and vacuumed.
...I remember that Ervin had brothers that liked to pull a few shenanigans
...I remember riding around Lemoore in a special ‘54 Chevrolet.
...I remember how caring he was for Lois (my dear sister).
...I remember the beautiful roses he grew outside the front door.
...And, yes, Ervin, I remember you as a great brother-in-law,

So long for now,
Jan Bollish
... one of the Bakers 4

Paula Jacobs

November 12, 2019

My sweet Uncle Ervin was a kind man of few, WELL-chosen words, a great wit, and a zany sense of humor. Uncle Ervin teased, but gently. I impressed him early with my driving; I was probably about 6 just starting on my little two-wheel bicycle, he was riding along with me. I was doing well 'til I got distracted, looked back for him and ran into a parked car. Uncle made sure I was ok, but couldn’t stop laughing when he retold the story … and again for MANY YEARS to come. It usually started with him asking “hit any parked cars lately?”

During my college years, Lemoore was half way to UCLA from Sacramento. This was prior to cell phones and it was quite a drive solo. Harris Ranch was right off the highway, I could look forward to a breakfast stop and visit with my aunt and uncle who drove 30 minutes to meet me.

My mother and I last visited Lemoore about 2004, we went to Sequoia one day and spent another beautiful day in Yosemite. The sisters, my mother Beverly and Aunt Lois, were in wheelchairs and Uncle Ervin and I were “driving”. He said, “Race Ya”, of course I joined and what fun! Uncle Ervin took great care of my Aunt Lois, was patient, kind and compassionate; and Susan had the father any girl would love, and she did!

I claimed to be his ‘favorite’ niece, he had lots! I was fortunate to have had several visits in San Diego, and joined he and Susan on a few trips. I always asked, “Did you miss me?”, anticipating his response of ‘yeah, like hemorrhoids’. Thank you, my dear Uncle, for so many fun memories, you’re in my heart forever; and your sweet zany character lives on in your dear daughter Susan.

Karla Sitzman

November 10, 2019

Some people make the world a better place just by being in it. Uncle Ervin was one of "those" people. I'm blessed to have known him. More importantly, I'm so very grateful he was in Aunt Lois, Susan and Jeff's life. - Karla

I always enjoyed visiting with Uncle Ervin. I loved his sense of humor. We shared many car talks about the old Buick and Chevy and even a ride or two on sparse visits. Hugs - Richard

Bernice Polivka

November 9, 2019

Although it was late in life I was privileged to meet my cousin Ervin and his brother Don, ( I had met his daughter Susan in earlier years) it felt as tho we had known one another for a lifetime. I cherish the memory of the two short days we were able to spend together when the three of them came to visit Nebraska. The Gruntorad humor came through loud and clear in his demeanor and the many moments of smiles and laughter that we shared are mine to hold as memories forever. He was at ease in my company and shared much of his loving ways with me. It may seem small but in that short visit I was able to learn of his liking for Lemon Pie. That was Ervin, May perpetual light shine upon him, May he Rest In Peace.

Erica Glennon

November 9, 2019

Ervin brought so much joy to every day. Some of my favorite memories are times when we would be together as a group and he would be silent for most of the event and then come up with one phrase or comment. One time we were teasing Susie about liking men with hairy backs. (lots of hair in general, which she has obviously changed as a standard for her men). Ervin listened to our describing the type of man and he chimed in, "You mean so hairy they were a day short of a dog?"
Ervin was kind every day of his life. He embodied all of the characteristics of "The Greatest Generation". He was a gentleman every day of his life. His kindness and genuine character live on in Susie.

Jim Marvin

November 7, 2019

It's hard to say goodbye to one of America's heroes. But Marines say it best: Semper Fi good friend. And say hi to our brothers up there.


A boy and his dog