OBITUARY

Othmar G. Grueninger

May 3, 1929July 16, 2021
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Indianapolis – Othmar Guenther Grueninger, 92, died Friday July 16, 2021 at Marquette Manor. Born in Karlsruhe, Germany, May 3, 1929, he was the son of Elisabeth Nagel Grüninger and Bürgermeister Edwin Grüninger. Othmar was married to Libby Jones of Indianapolis, Indiana. Othmar Grueninger had a passion for sharing the world, and looking for the next adventure, new places to go and new ideas of how to get there. That passion started at a young age.

Active in the Boy Scouts, he was one of three Germans who attended the Boy Scout Peace Jamboree 1947 outside of Paris, and was very involved in rebuilding the Boy Scouts in southwestern Germany.

Othmar received a bachelor and masters degrees in chemistry from Geissen University in Germany before coming to the United States in 1953 to study International Relations. He then received a masters from DePauw University and worked towards a PhD in International Relations at Northwestern University.

It was at DePauw that Othmar began to offer student tours to Europe as a way to earn some money and visit his home. It was on his first summer 10-week tour that he met Libby, one of his first clients. After they married on February 11, 1956, the couple expanded his successful student business into a full-service travel agency. Using his first-hand knowledge of Europe, he arranged tours for corporate travel clubs, as well as the general public.

Throughout the years, Grueninger Travel continued to grow, opening branches across the Midwest and Northeast. He led the industry with innovative travel offerings such as rail tours across Canada and the American West in Grueninger-owned Pullman railway cars, specialty cruises in the Mediterranean and Great Lakes on cruise ships for groups such as the Shrine Temple, Olympic trips for athletic coaches and off-season charter getaway weeks in Portugal and Spain.

The firm was the largest agency for TWA and EL AL, which invited Grueninger Travel to be one of the first agencies to launch travel to Israel. In the late '70s, Othmar became president of Carras Cruises, based in San Francisco, with two passenger ships and 14 freighters.

In 1983, he and his family returned to Grueninger Travel and Indianapolis, where he has spent his remaining 38 years. He continued to focus on group travel, expanding offerings in religious pilgrimages and student performance travel including high school bands and the Indianapolis Children’s Choir (ICC). In 1997, he was the Grand Marshal of the King Kamehameha Parade in thanks for his promotion of Hawaii and support for the parade.

Today, the Grueninger Travel Group includes Ambassadair, Grueninger Music Tours, Grueninger Meetings and Incentives, Grueninger Tours and Cruises and Amber Travel. In 2008, son Michael took over the company, giving Othmar and Libby time to focus on personal travel and their growing list of grandchildren.

The couple also founded The Alpine Haus in Broad Ripple in the early 1960s (which later moved to Glendale), a ski and import store, after finding that there was no place to purchase ski equipment and European imports in the Indianapolis area, at the time. Othmar was a founding member and president of the American Retail Travel Association (ARTA), as well as a state secretary of the Chamber of Commerce and the Northside Kiwanis. He served on the board of the Jaycees, was State Secretary for a two-year term and a long time Exhausted Rooster. He was also on the board of the Propylaeum, and involved with the National Tour Association.

He was particularly proud of becoming a U.S. citizen in December of 1960. In 2015, Othmar was honored with the Hoosier German-American of the Year, a special award for promoting cultural understanding between Germany and the United States and the two sister cities of Indianapolis and Cologne.

He is survived by his sister Anglika Heftrich, daughter Christina and husband Hugh Dyar III; daughter Heidi and husband Michael Healy; son Michael and wife Erika; and ten grandchildren-- Bryn Hoffman and husband Andrew, Darby Dyar, Hugh Dyar IV, Conner Healy, Kai Healy, Cameron Healy, Michael Grueninger, Max Grueninger, Sophia Grueninger and Anna Grueninger.

Othmar’s family would like to extend their heartfelt gratitude to the wonderful people at Marquette Manor who took such good care of Othmar, especially during the last 7 months since Libby passed away. They would also like to express their gratitude to the hundreds of people who worked for and with Othmar throughout the years, many of whom have reached out to the family to share their respect and stories.

A calling will be held at Leppert Mortuary, 740 E 86th St, Indpls, Sunday, July 25, from 3-5 pm. A Mass of Christian Burial service will be held at St. Luke Catholic Church Monday, July 26, at 11:30 am with burial at Crown Hill Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Student Youth Travel Association Youth Foundation which helps children in need experience the world at https://sytayouthfoundation.org/online-donation-form or 2776 S. Arlington Mill Dr., #564, Arlington, VA 22206. Arrangements are in the care of Leppert Mortuaries, 740 E. 86th Street, Indpls, IN 46240. To share a memory, please visit www.leppertmortuary.com.

Services

  • Visitation

    Sunday, July 25, 2021

  • Mass of Christian Burial

    Monday, July 26, 2021

    VIEW VIDEO

Memories

Othmar G. Grueninger

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Volkmar Schultz

July 29, 2021

The news of Othmar's passing has saddened all of us in the Cologne - Indianapolis Sister City Organisation. We fondly remember the meetings with him, also his magnanimous support of our relationship and, last not least, the wonderful day some of us spent with him on a trip to Southern Indiana in October 2008. Without people like him German-American relations could not have been built in the decades of his lifetime. Othmar will be remembered and missed dearly.
Volkmar Schultz

Jon & JaTonya WHITE

July 26, 2021

Othmar and Libby were the perfect hosts on a magnificent cruise to Iceland and Norway in 2013. They made us feel comfortable and welcome the moment we met them, and by the end of the cruise we had become friends. More than eight years later, we look back fondly on our experience and the Grueningers' hospitality.

May God be with you, our dear friend.
Jon & JaTonya White

Thomas & Janice Smith

July 26, 2021

Erika,
Tom and I extend our deepest sympathy to the recent loss of your father-in-law. Tom entered DePauw in the fall of 1957, and while at DePauw he remembers your father-in-law as a professor there at the university. While losses are always difficult, it seems he had an fulfilling life that you can celebrate.
Jan

(Suzy's parents)

Linda Gritzer

July 25, 2021

After the death of my husband in 2011 I wanted to return to Stuttgart where we met while in the military. I contacted Othmar and he was very kind and helpful in researching the old 5th General Hospital and getting me up to date. I took the September tour with he and his wife and he made sure we went past the area. I was so appreciative.

Beckie Owens

July 25, 2021

Othmar and Libby introduced me to Germany, and I have many fond memories of that trip.

Linda Nevitt

July 25, 2021

I am so sorry to hear of Othmar's passing and was not even aware that Libby had died 7 months ago. My late husband, Bill Nevitt, was a college roommate at DePauw and was forever grateful for the chance he got as a tour escort. Both of us got to see places in the world we never would have if not for Othmar and Libby. My deepest condolences. Linda Nevitt

Ali Judd

July 22, 2021

Othmar will always hold a special place in my heart. He lived a wonderful life filled with travel adventures and shared that passion with many. Peace and comfort to you all.

Matthew Morris

July 22, 2021

After my high school (New Castle) band won the Indiana State Fair contest in '74, we were invited to participate in the Edison Pageant of Light in Fort Myers, FL, and then perform at a still fairly young Disney World. It was a wonderful experience and great trip. While I can't remember a lot of things in my 60s, I always remember that the Grueningers planned it. Thinking of your family.

Sharon Wininger-Monroe

July 21, 2021

I am very sorry to hear of your loss and my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. The Grueninger's are very dear to my heart. My prayers are with you all...

God bless,
Sharon

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Hanging out

FROM THE FAMILY

Anglika - Othmar's sister

FROM THE FAMILY

With Cameron

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Mike and OGG in Rome

FROM THE FAMILY

Heidi and OGG

FROM THE FAMILY

Kai and OGG

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Biography

Indianapolis – Othmar Guenther Grueninger, 92, died Friday July 16, 2021 at Marquette Manor. Born in Karlsruhe, Germany, May 3, 1929, he was the son of Elisabeth Nagel Grüninger and Bürgermeister Edwin Grüninger. Othmar was married to Libby Jones of Indianapolis, Indiana.
Othmar Grueninger had a passion for sharing the world, and looking for the next adventure, new places to go and new ideas of how to get there. That passion started at a young age.

Active in the Boy Scouts, he was one of three Germans who attended the Boy Scout Peace Jamboree 1947 outside of Paris, and was very involved in rebuilding the Boy Scouts in southwestern Germany.

Othmar received a bachelor and masters degrees in chemistry from Geissen University in Germany before coming to the United States in 1953 to study International Relations. He then received a masters from DePauw University and worked towards a PhD in International Relations at Northwestern University.

It was at DePauw that Othmar began to offer student tours to Europe as a way to earn some money and visit his home. It was on his first summer 10-week tour that he met Libby, one of his first clients. After they married on February 11, 1956, the couple expanded his successful student business into a full-service travel agency. Using his first-hand knowledge of Europe, he arranged tours for corporate travel clubs, as well as the general public.

Throughout the years, Grueninger Travel continued to grow, opening branches across the Midwest and Northeast. He led the industry with innovative travel offerings such as rail tours across Canada and the American West in Grueninger-owned Pullman railway cars, specialty cruises in the Mediterranean and Great Lakes on cruise ships for groups such as the Shrine Temple, Olympic trips for athletic coaches and off-season charter getaway weeks in Portugal and Spain.

The firm was the largest agency for TWA and EL AL, which invited Grueninger Travel to be one of the first agencies to launch travel to Israel. In the late '70s, Othmar became president of Carras Cruises, based in San Francisco, with two passenger ships and 14 freighters.

In 1983, he and his family returned to Grueninger Travel and Indianapolis, where he has spent his remaining 38 years. He continued to focus on group travel, expanding offerings in religious pilgrimages and student performance travel including high school bands and the Indianapolis Children’s Choir (ICC). In 1997, he was the Grand Marshal of the King Kamehameha Parade in thanks for his promotion of Hawaii and support for the parade.

Today, the Grueninger Travel Group includes Ambassadair, Grueninger Music Tours, Grueninger Groups and Incentives, Grueninger Tours and Cruises and Amber Travel. In 2008, son Michael took over the company, giving Othmar and Libby time to focus on personal travel and their growing list of grandchildren.

The couple also founded The Alpine Haus in Broad Ripple in the early 1960s (which later moved to Glendale), a ski and import store, after finding that there was no place to purchase ski equipment and European imports in the Indianapolis area, at the time.
Othmar was a founding member and president of the American Retail Travel Association (ARTA), as well as a state secretary of the Chamber of Commerce and the Northside Kiwanis. He served on the board of the Jaycees, was State Secretary for a two-year term and a long time Exhausted Rooster. He was also on the board of the Propylaeum, and involved with the National Tour Association.

He was particularly proud of becoming a U.S. citizen in December of 1960. In 2015, Othmar was honored with the Hoosier German-American of the Year, a special award for promoting cultural understanding between Germany and the United States and the two sister cities of Indianapolis and Cologne.

He is survived by his sister Anglika Heftrich, daughter Christina and husband Hugh Dyar III; daughter Heidi and husband Michael Healy; son Michael and wife Erika; and ten grandchildren-- Bryn Hoffman and husband Andrew, Darby Dyar, Hugh Dyar IV, Conner Healy, Kai Healy, Cameron Healy, Michael Grueninger, Max Grueninger, Sophia Grueninger and Anna Grueninger.

Othmar’s family would like to extend their heartfelt gratitude to the wonderful people at Marquette Manor who took such good care of Othmar, especially during the last 7 months since Libby passed away. They would also like to express their gratitude to the hundreds of people who worked for and with Othmar throughout the years, many of whom have reached out to the family to share their respect and stories.

A calling will be held at Leppert Mortuary, 740 E 86th St, Indpls, Sunday, July 25, from 3-5 pm. A Mass of Christian Burial service will be held at St. Luke Catholic Church Monday, July 26, at 11:30 am with burial at Crown Hill Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Student Youth Travel Association Youth Foundation which helps children in need experience the world at https://sytayouthfoundation.org/online-donation-form or 2776 S. Arlington Mill Dr., #564, Arlington, VA 22206. Arrangements are in the care of Leppert Mortuaries, 740 E. 86th Street, Indpls, IN 46240. To share a memory, please visit www.leppertmortuary.com.