James (Jim) Donald Gronau of Newton passed away peacefully on May 17, 2023, at Halstead Health & Rehab in Halstead at the age of 82. James was born on March 30, 1941, in Newton to A.M. and Agnes (Endres) Gronau.
He attended Newton High School, where he met and courted the love of his life, Dennes (Dennie) Rae Grant. They were married on June 18, 1960, in Newton for 63 wonderful, exciting, sometimes crazy years.
A lifelong resident of Newton, Jim owned and operated various businesses in the area prior to retirement, including Gronau Lumber & Welding, where he designed and produced cattle and hog equipment and ran one of the few sawmills in the state, and Big Jim’s BBQ, where Jim affectionately earned the moniker “Big Jim” and a legion of customers and BBQ fanatics who would follow him anywhere to get his world-class BBQ. Jim also was known for his antique “creations” that were displayed in the many antique mall booths they operated. Jim could take an old, broken, throw-away object and turn it into a sought-after work of art.
Survivors include his wife, Dennie of Newton; children, Gary Gronau (Sheri) of Newton, Larry Gronau (Brenda) of Newton and Geri Schroeder (Mark) of Walton; grandchildren, Ashley Campbell (Shane), Cody Gronau (Jessica), Erica Stevens (Wade) and Chelsea Mikulecky (Brian),; seven great-grandchildren; sisters, Jeanie Senn and Rita Gronau; sisters-in-law, Nancy Gronau and Carol Grant; brothers-in-law, Joe Jessee and Bill Grant; and several nieces and nephews.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents; son, Cary Gronau; brother, Robert Gronau; sister, Susan Gronau; brothers-in-law, Jim Senn and Jon Grant; and sisters-in-law, Leslie Jessee and Shari Grant.
A gathering and visitation was from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, June 16, at Petersen Funeral Home. A private family inurnment was in St. Mary Cemetery in Newton. Memorials in Jim’s memory have been suggested to Good Shepherd Hospice and may be left with or mailed to the funeral home. Online condolences may be left at www.petersenfamilyfuneralhome.com. Services entrusted to Petersen Family Funeral Home, 215 N. Main, Newton, KS 67114.