Duke Flags Lowered: Former Trustee George Grune Dies at Age 83

Duke alumnus and former trustee George Vincent Grune of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., died on April 17 of complications following open heart surgery after a short stay in the Jacksonville Mayo Clinic Hospital.  He was 83.

Grune was born and raised in White Plains, N.Y.  He graduated from White Plains High School where he excelled in football, basketball and track. He attended Duke University on a full football scholarship.  It was there he met his wife of 60 years, Betty Lu. Grune played football for four years at Duke, earning All-State North Carolina and ATO All-American in 1951.  In addition to football, he was chairman of the Student Judicial Board, editor of the Duke literary magazine, The Archive, member of ODK national honorary leadership fraternity, member of ATO fraternity, along with many other activities.  He graduated from Duke University in 1952 with a BA in English, later served as a trustee of the board of the University for 10 years, and then as a permanent trustee emeritus.  He received an honorary Phi Beta Kappa degree from Duke in 1995. 

After graduation from Duke, Grune joined the United States Marine Corps where he served for two years before completing two years of law school at the University of Florida.   He continued in the reserves, being honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in 1964 as a captain. 

George and his wife Betty Lu raised their three sons in Westport, Conn.   He worked briefly for the Continental Can Company before going to work for The Reader’s Digest Association in 1960 as an advertising salesman. 

He worked in the books and recorded music division, international business and most other areas of the company before being named to the board of directors in 1977 and chairman and CEO in 1984.

In addition to his corporate responsibilities at Reader’s Digest, Grune was chairman of the Wallace Funds, philanthropic foundations created by DeWitt and Lila Wallace, the founders of the company, to benefit education, youth, arts and culture.  He also was chairman of the boards of the individual foundations the Wallaces created to support major institutions like the New York Zoological Society, Lincoln Center, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Public Library, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Colonial Williamsburg and Macalester College in Minnesota.

He is survived by his wife, Betty Lu, three sons and daughters-in-law and nine grandchildren: George, Jr. and Judy Grune with children Heather, Lindsey, and George III; Robert and Joan Grune with children Alexandra, Robert, Jr., and Jordan; and Steven and Nancy Grune with children Steven, Jr., Natalie and Kevin. 

Services will be held at Palms Presbyterian Church at 11 a.m. Wednesday, April 24.  In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the National Boys and Girls Clubs of America at 1275 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta, GA 30309-3506 or online at www.bgca.org or to the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra at 300 Water St., Suite 200, Jacksonville, FL 32202 or online at www.jaxsymphony.org.