May 20, 1922-April 20, 2011
Reynold August "Tony" Griess, 88, long time resident of Park Rapids, peacefully passed into eternity on Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at St. Joseph's Area Health Services in Park Rapids.
Tony was born to Andrew and Edyth (Eichenberger) Griess on May 20, 1922, on the home farm in little Sauk Township of Todd County. It was in this same area that he attended the Todd County District 91 Country School near his home and attended the West Central School of Agriculture in Morris, completing his 12th grade with emphasis in metal and welding. He grew into manhood helping on his father's farm.
Tony joined the U.S. Army in 1942 and was part of the Army Air Corps 865th Bomb Squad based on the Palau Islands near the Phillipines, where he served his country as an airplane mechanic in the Pacific Theatre of World War II.
His mission was to accompany the flight crews on bombing raids and then repair the planes that had gotten shot up so that they could return safely as soon as possible.
His mechanical capabilities acquired much acclaim for retrofitting air masks into the B-24 Bombers so that pilots could fly at much higher altitudes to avoid detection, saving lives and aircraft.
After the war, Tony received his honorable discharge and returned to Minnesota, where he farmed in Parnell Township near Graceville.
On Feb. 12, 1944, Tony was united in marriage to Beth Lorraine Kottke at the Siloah Lutheran Church in Parnell Township. He farmed until contracting polio in 1949 and being told he would never walk again. With a determined mind and a disciplined spirit, Tony overcame his handicap. He moved to Oregon with his family, where he ran a metal fabrication shop that specialized in building van bodies and camper toppers.
In 1952, his love for farming caused them to return to Minnesota, where Tony went to work as an inseminator for Minnesota Valley Breeders in Browns Valley and Sleepy Eye. In 1956, they moved to Ortonville, where he worked in the Ford garage for his father-in-law. Later he established and operated the Valu Variety Store in Ortonville.
In 1960, Tony moved with his family to Detroit Lakes, where he worked for the Charles Olson and Son Company selling heavy duty truck equipment and school buses. In 1965, they moved to Brainerd, where he continued selling truck equipment.
The Griess family moved to Park Rapids in 1972 and in 1974, Tony went to work for Martin's Sports Afloat, formerly Jack's Outboard. In 1976, Tony established Pier 34 Marine, which he operated with his sons, Randy and Kevin. In 1980, Tony began working as a caretaker, grounds and maintenance supervisor in a career that spanned most of the rest of his life.
Tony endured the heartache of Beth's death in 2000.
Tony loved the outdoors especially when he could be out hunting, fishing, waterskiing, snow skiing and snowmobiling. When his family was young, Tony especially enjoyed the weekends they spent at their cabin on Round Lake, which was always a favorite gathering spot for all the neighbor kids.
Tony was an active member of Riverside United Methodist Church in Park Rapids, where his carpentry skills were put to good use at the church and Northern Pines Camp. For many years his skilled handiwork at landscaping and raising beautiful flowers was appreciated by many.
Tony will be lovingly remembered by his four sons, Gary (Brenda) Griess of Olympia, Wash., Sheldon (Helen) Griess of Park Rapids, Randy (Lori) Griess of Park Rapids and Kevin (Terri) Griess of Montevideo; former daughter-in-law, Ellie Hensel of Park Rapids; 15 much loved grandchildren and 23 great grandchildren; as well as numerous nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.
Preceding him in death were his precious wife, Beth; brother, Leland; and sister, Louise.
Funeral services are 11 a.m. Friday, April 29 at Riverside United Methodist Church in Park Rapids, with Revs. Lee Kantonen and Bob Light officiating.
Visitation is 5-8 p.m. Thursday evening, April 28, at Jones-Pearson Funeral Home and for one hour prior to the service at the church on Friday.
Active casketbearers will be his grandchildren.
Military honors will be provided by Star of the North Marine Corps League, with interment in Greenwood Cemetery, Park Rapids.
In lieu of flowers the family prefers memorials to be given in Tony's name to St. Josephs Hospice.
To leave online condolences visit www.jonespearson.com.