Mary Lou Gruhn

March 10, 1937 – Jan. 27, 2020

Mary Lou (Whitcomb) Gruhn was born March 10, 1937, in Canton, Ohio, to Wilbur and June Whitcomb. She grew up in Canton, Ohio, and moved to Phoenix, Ariz., when she was 13. She had rheumatic fever as a child, and the family was told to move to Arizona in the hopes that her health would improve. Her health did improve, and she was able to return to school despite concerns that she would not make it past age 13. She graduated from North Phoenix High School in 1955.

Mary Lou was united in marriage to Richard Gruhn Dec. 29, 1956, in Phoenix, and they had four children together. They were married for 38 years before divorcing in 1994. On Aug. 24, 1996, Mary Lou married Larry McManis in Phoenix. Larry passed away in 2002, and Mary Lou moved to Titonka, several years later to live near her daughter Mary Beth and granddaughter Carrie.

Mary Lou loved music, and many will remember her playing the piano and organ at church and community events. She started playing piano when she was 5 years old and began playing the organ for the church when she was 12. Her cousin John Hobson said she was more talented as a child than anyone he’d seen on America’s Got Talent. She was even awarded a scholarship to the Juilliard School for music at 17, but the family could not afford for her to attend. Nevertheless, she continued to play music for others for almost 70 years. She also enjoyed playing cards, spending time with family, traveling and especially taking cruises.

Mary Lou died Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, at MercyOne North Iowa Medical Center in Mason City due to heart failure. She was 82.

She is survived by her children, Mary Beth (Norm) Cooper of Titonka; Mark (Mary) Gruhn of Flagstaff, Ariz.; Michael (Janet) Gruhn of Dripping Springs, Texas; and Robert Gruhn of Phoenix, Ariz. She is also survived by grandchildren Brian (Emily Skinner) Gruhn, Amber (Matt) Berg, Tyler (Jennifer) Gruhn, Meredith Gruhn and Carrie (Joseph) Galvan; and great-grandson Roan Gruhn Skinner.

Mary Lou was preceded in death by her parents, June and Wilbur; first husband Richard Gruhn; and husband Larry.

A memorial service for Mary Lou was held Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020, at the United Methodist Church in Titonka. Online condolence may be left at

Kossuth County Advance

14 E. Nebraska St.

Algona, IA 50511  

Phone: (515) 295-3535

Fax: (515) 295-7217

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