Dr. William Bryant Gruhn

Published 10:57 am Friday, June 9, 2017

Dr. William Bryant Gruhn, 72, died of heart failure Sunday, June 4, 2017 at the Elizabeth House in Flat Rock, N.C., surrounded by loving family.

A memorial will be held on Monday, June 12, 2017 at 11 a.m. at the McFarland Funeral Chapel in Tryon, N.C.

Born in Riverside, Calif. to Maxine (Bryant) and Herman Gruhn, he spent his childhood days there and in Huron, S.D., working on his family’s farm. His academic accomplishments included a degree in chemistry from University of California- Riverside, studies at Georgia Augusta University in Gottingen, Germany, his Ph.D. in organic chemistry at Northwestern University, and a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University.

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He ultimately pursued his medical degree from Dartmouth College in 1974, completing his residency in internal medicine and rheumatology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. There he met his wife, Kathryn, who shared an interest in horses and farm life. He took a research position at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, and in 1981 joined the Nalle Clinic in Charlotte, N.C. He also served as Clinical Professor of Medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill. In 1990, he joined Carolina Bone and Joint, dedicating 16 years to clinical practice and research.

He and Kathryn developed a farm in Weddington, N.C. where they raised their daughters. He also explored passions in woodworking, fox hunting, polo, tennis, writing, gardening, birding and photography. He retired in 2006 to live part-time in the mountains of Independence, Va. There, he found a love for bluegrass guitar and played in local jam sessions, eventually leading him to the Blue Ridge Music Center.

Seeing a need in the area, he returned to practice rheumatology at Twin County Hospital in Galax, Va. He retired again in May 2016, to focus on traveling and being a grandpa.

“Bill,” as he liked to be called, had a quiet exterior, but underneath he was a sweet, compassionate soul with a witty sense of humor and lighthearted take on life. He loved his family, his dogs, serving others, and the simple things in life and was quick to downplay his talents and accomplishments. He is well loved and will be sorely missed, but the music and joy that he has brought his family and friends lives on.

He leaves behind his wife of 43 years, Kathryn (Thorson) Gruhn; daughter Alice Kexel and son-in-law Torin Kexel; daughter Jennifer Gruhn; grandchildren Miles and Eden Kexel; nieces Remy Newcombe and Honor Karol; dogs Wiggles and Leon; and many wonderful extended family and friends.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be given to the JAM program, Blue Ridge Music Center, Galax, Virginia; Foothills Humane Society, P.O. Box 126, Tryon, NC 28782; or Gone Away, Tryon Hounds, Tryon, NC.

McFarland Funeral Chapel
Tryon, N.C.