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Gorsline Runciman Funeral Homes

1730 East Grand River Ave, East Lansing, MI

OBITUARY

John O. Grettenberger Sr

July 25, 1937March 17, 2020

It is with deep sadness that Bo the Cat announces the passing of his dear human, John O. Grettenberger, Sr., former Vice President of General Motors and General Manager of Cadillac Motor Car Division, on March 17, 2020. Bo and the rest of the family kept constant vigil at John’s bedside as he ended his battle with cancer. John was 82 years of age.

Family was the center of John’s life. Surviving are his extraordinary wife of 61 years, Jane Grettenberger; his children Krista Grettenberger, John Grettenberger Jr. (Sandy), and Ann Orr Weil (Tony); his beloved grandchildren Troy, Anna, Zachary, Thomas, Sloane, Paige (Colin), Kelsey (Russell) and Jillian (Brandon); and his cherished great-grandson Archer. John is also survived by his sister and brother-in-law Ann and Darwin Shaver, nieces Beth (Carl) and Laura (Chris), nephew Patrick (Adrianne), honorary daughters Dunja and Rebecca (Justin), honorary grandson Timo, and many cousins and grandnieces.

John was born in 1937 to Orin and Laura Grettenberger in Okemos, MI. After graduating from the University of Michigan and his ROTC training, he served as an officer in the Navy from 1959 until 1962. John began his career at General Motors as a clerk in Oldsmobile’s Los Angeles sales office, after which he advanced through a variety of sales positions.

In 1972, John was awarded an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After earning a Masters Degree in management, he moved on to a series of higher-level GM positions in several cities across America. He also served as GM’s special marketing consultant to Isuzu in Japan in 1978 and joined GM subsidiary Adam Opel AG in Germany as Sales Director and member of Opel’s Board of Directors.

In 1984, John returned to Detroit and was named a General Motors Vice President and General Manager of Cadillac Motor Car Division. He served in that capacity until his retirement in 1997. During his Cadillac tenure, the division was awarded the nation’s highest quality award, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, presented to John by President George H.W. Bush. In 1991, the Automotive Hall of Fame, citing John’s leadership in rededicating Cadillac to customer satisfaction and utilizing a leadership style that cherishes each Cadillac employee, named him as its “Industry Leader of the Year”. During his tenure at Cadillac, he enjoyed personally delivering Presidential limousines to presidents Reagan, Bush (H.W.) and Clinton.

Following his 1997 retirement, John returned to Lansing to join his son, John Jr., in a family business, LorAnn Oils Inc., founded by his father, Orin K. Grettenberger, a long time Okemos businessman. John served on numerous Boards of Directors, including Spartan Oil Corporation, Trans-Teq Corporation, Sparrow Development Incorporated, and the Chief Okemos Council Boy Scouts of America.

John’s work on behalf of Sparrow Hospital included seven years of service on the Quality and Patient Safety Committee, four years as Sparrow Development Inc.’s Board Chair, and membership on the Blue Ribbon Panel, the hospital’s taskforce on governance restructuring.

In 2014, John provided leadership as a member of Sparrow Foundation’s Cancer Center Campaign Cabinet, which raised more than $8.6 million for the creation of the new Cancer Center. John has been a philanthropic supporter since 1996; John and Jane are members of the Sparrow Foundation Philanthropist’s League at the Ambassador Level.

In 2019, in recognition of John’s many years of service to the Sparrow community, he was given its highest honor, the Sparrow Founder’s Award.

John’s service extended far into the greater Lansing community. He was a significant member of Mayor Hollister’s Blue Ribbon Committee to Keep GM, an effort that resulted in GM’s decision to stay in Lansing and build two new plants. John was a founding member and key financial contributor to both the Forster Woods Adult Day Center in Williamston and the Friends of Historic Meridian Township, which is dedicated to preserving and maintaining the historic structures in the Meridian Historical Village. In the Village, he spearheaded the efforts to build a replica of an Okemos chapel originally built in 1870. John has also been an active and contributing member of the Lansing Rotary and has supported many other charitable organizations in the Lansing area.

Perhaps John’s most important legacy is his close-knit family, who actually like to vacation together. John and Jane rebuilt and maintained his parent’s cottage at Houghton Lake, and family frequently gather there to play games and overeat. John and Jane have also taken the 15 members of our immediate family on adventures all over the world, from Hawaii to Mexico to Europe. We are forever grateful to our father, grandfather and great grandfather for instilling the importance of family in each and every one of us.

The family would like to give special thanks to Doctors Michael Zaroukian and Michael Clark for their continuous support through John’s nine lives. Also special thanks to Sparrow Hospice and to Home Instead caregivers Anna Lambert, Tonya Arbour, Jackie Hebden, and Rakael Tyler.

John chose an interesting time to leave this Earth and in light of current circumstances, we will not be holding visitations nor a funeral. Instead, when life is a bit calmer, we will hold a Celebration of Life memorial service, its time, date and location TBD. In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to Friends of Historic Meridian, Forster Woods Adult Day Center, St. Katherine’s Episcopal Church (Williamston, MI), Sparrow Hospital Foundation, Lansing Rotary Foundation or the Greater Lansing Food Bank.

Services

  • Private Family Service

Memories

John O. Grettenberger Sr

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Tina Gibson

March 25, 2020

My heart is saddened to hear of John's passing. I met John and Jane while taking care of John's Aunt Edna. I have the fondest memories of how much he loved his family and how well he took care of his Aunt, ensuring she had everything she needed at all times. He will be deeply missed by many whom had the honor of getting to know his warm smile and generous heart. Sending love and prayers to his beautiful wife and family.

Scott Redman

March 23, 2020

If you had just met John and were unaware of all his accomplishments, accolades, etc., you would just think he was a regular guy. He treated everyone the same as he would have treated a top GM executive or even a US President! A man was a man and a lady was a lady. Everyone got equal respect. What a quality. A quality we should all strive to possess. I would talk to John a couple times a year, always seeking his advice for a big decision in my life. The sincerity beamed from him as I hung on every word of advice from this great man. He didn’t have to ever try to help me. He wanted to help me. I was nobody to John in the grand scheme of things. I knew that. But he didn’t. I was important and that’s how he felt. That’s how he made me feel. I’ll miss our talks as few as there were. They were priceless to me. John Grettenberger was my fathers best friend. I know my Dad has a big void in his life now. I hurt for him as well. He will miss his lifelong buddy but has a mountain of memories to look upon. To Jane and family I send my love and prayers. I’m proud to say John was my Dads best friend. Therefore he was my friend, too. Until we meet again my friend.
Rest easy.

john costin

March 23, 2020

My thoughts today are for John's loved ones.
It was at Adam Opel AG that I first came into contact with John. I quickly found him to be a great leader, with honest and transparent actions. He was a model for other executives to follow.

Michael Eggert, PhD

March 23, 2020

Mr Grettenberger will always be my best memory in dealing with the monolithic Cadillac organization. I founded the Cadillac Allante club in the mid 90’s and he supported my efforts and forced the bean counters to Advertise in our publication... we met several times and he was always an appreciative and charming gentleman. We last communicated a year or two ago and he still remembered me and was still the charming fellow I was proud to know... Godspeed John, there’s not enough folks like you in the world...

Vincent Zea

March 22, 2020

Condolences to the whole family. John was always a joy to speak with when he came to the barbershop, always speaking highly of his family also he loved his gatherings up north at the family cottage. It was always fun to hear of all the history of Okemos I would always learn something new . He will be missed dearly.

Lynne VanDeventer

March 21, 2020

My heart goes out to The Grettenberger Family and his circle of friends. God made a special mold when he created John Grettenberger. This man stood as a pillar of strength, truth, love and kindness. I feel a loss and special comfort that I had the honor of meeting this extraordinary man and his children. May he soar forever in The Heavens with the angels...

Gene wriggelsworth

March 20, 2020

John was an easy to get to know kind of person. A person who cared about his community as is evidenced by his many charitable activities, always willing to give and get involved as well. He has left a huge mark on this world that will continue to make a difference for many years to come, a great legacy! When the Ingham County Sheriff's Office started a fund drive to erect a Law Enforcement Memorial for area Officers killed in the line of duty, the Grettenberger family was one of the first to step up and make it possible, again displaying care, concern and leadership. John will be missed by all, especially for his kind and caring personality. Our condolences for your great loss!
Gene & Sandy Wriggelsworth

Kevin and Mary Howard

March 19, 2020

Jane and family,
Kevin and I are heartbroken to hear of John’s passing. He was the epitome of a good neighbor and friend, looking out for me when Kevin was away. He will always have a very special place in my heart and will be missed by so many.
With love and sympathy, Kevin and Mary Howard

Okemos Alumni

March 19, 2020

The alumni of Okemos High School and the entire Okemos community share in your grief over John's passing. He lead an exemplary life, providing caring leadership in so many areas of industry and community. John's contributions towards preserving the history of Okemos/Meridian will be enjoyed and appreciated for generations to come. Our heartfelt thoughts of caring to each of you.

Susan Konkel

March 19, 2020

My late husband Gil Konkel adored this man and his lovely wife .. Rest in peace Mr. Grettenberger and I'm sure Gil was there to greet you in heaven

FROM THE FAMILY