IN MEMORIAM: Otto Harry Gruner III

by Jane Ahrens

Otto Harry Gruner III, 89, died peacefully December 9, 2016 with his wife Nancy and daughter, Alexandra at his bedside. A resident of Fox Chapel, Pennsylvania since 1962, Harry had moved to Longwood Retirement Community in Oakmont, Pennsylvania in 2011 after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Born July 27, 1927, he was the son of Otto Harry Gruner, Jr. and Harriet Coffin of Cedarhurst, Long Island, New York.

Harry graduated from Phillips Academy Andover in 1946 and from Yale University in 1950. He majored in U.S. history and played tennis, soccer, hockey, rugby and court ball. While at Yale he was in the naval officers training program, afterwards serving as a lieutenant, junior grade, with his final posting in the Engineering Department of the “Coral Sea”, one of the Midway class aircraft carriers, then the largest in the U.S. Navy.

Following his tour in the Navy he entered a sales training program at Manning, Maxwell and Moore, manufacturer of material handling equipment located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Subsequently, he and George Follansbee co-founded Follansbee & Gruner, Inc. where he was President until his retirement in 1998. Chief among his volunteer activities was his 20-year service as chairman of the Building and Grounds Committee on the board of the Western Pennsylvania Hospital, one of the few regional hospitals that survived the period with an independent board. He was a volunteer with the Fox Chapel Fire Department and Chairman of the Fox Chapel Golf Club Greens Committee for many years.

Harry was a gifted and enthusiastic fisherman, hunter and athlete who played multiple games on multiple teams in multiple venues. He spent parts of many summers on Fishers Island, NY in contented pursuit of bluefish, striped bass, flounder, fluke and golf balls. He once claimed that he really only answered the phone in hopes it would be someone inviting him to go fishing. Which he would do anywhere, but most happily for Atlantic salmon in Quebec, Iceland or the River Tweed.

He was a gentleman, “old school” in the best way, approachable and appreciated by folks from all walks of life. Most memorably, Harry was funny, blessed with a gentle, wry sense of humor that endeared him to everyone he met and he will be terribly missed.

He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Nancy Evans, his children, Dr. Sam Evans (Leslie Goss), Harry Siegfried (Rebecca Henry), Alexandra Coffin (David Riley) and seven grandchildren, William E., Harry B., Angus G., Ellory G., George C., Emma D. and Charles H. His beloved younger sister Harriet Gruner Ross Rockefeller (Sue) predeceased him on Christmas morning, 2014.

A memorial service will be held at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 5801 Hampton Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15206 on Saturday, January 7th at 11:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a contribution to the West Penn Hospital Foundation, 4818 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15224.

Featured Photo

USCG Eagle passing the Race early morning March 18, 2023 on her return from the Chesapeake Bay. Photo Credit Marlin Bloethe

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