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Peter Granzeau Obituary

Peter H. Granzeau Obituary

Peter Hale Granzeau Obituary

NEWPORT NEWS - Peter Hale Granzeau, 80, son of the late Dr. Herbert William Granzeau and Dayle Hampel Granzeau of Burlington, WI and husband of 52 years to the late Mary Page Wade Granzeau, passed from this life on Sunday, March 6, 2016 at his home in The Huntington.

Born in Mineola, NY, He moved to Burlington, WI when he was 6 months old. He graduated from Burlington High School and DePauw University. He was a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity and earned a B.A. in Political Science. He served as Lieutenant JG in the US Navy and was stationed in Norfolk, VA where he met and married his wife, Mary Page. He worked in the insurance industry, and moved his family from Norfolk to Winston-Salem and Charlotte, NC, and then to Mechanicsburg, PA. He received computer training from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania before going to work at the New Cumberland Army Depot as a Programmer/Analyst. The move into the growing field of computer science gave him the second great love of his life in computers. In 1974, he accepted a civilian position at Langley Air Force Base as a Systems Analyst and moved his family to Hampton. Soon after, he met his third great love in the form of his dog Abby.

A member of the First UCC, Hampton, he served as a Deacon and was a member of the Good Time Singers senior choir. He loved music, especially classical music. He was a good singer, played trombone in high school, and taught himself to play the guitar, which he would use to lead family sing-a-longs. His other passions were computers and science fiction. He was both a founding member of DIGIT, the DIgital Group In Tidewater, and one of its last surviving members.

He is survived by his daughter Emily G. Whitley and her husband Frank and son Greg all of Sandston and son David of Chesapeake, his daughter Caroline P. Pfister and her fiancé Arthur B. Byrne and her children Wendy and Jack, all of Charlottesville, brother Tim Granzeau and his wife Lib of Springfield, IL, and sister Penelope Jones and her husband Roger of Vancouver, WA. A memorial service will be conducted at 2 P. M. Friday, March 11 by the Rev. Lisa Gaul at the First United Church of Christ, Hampton. The family will receive friends following the service in the church social hall. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the First United Church of Christ, 1017 Todds Lane, Hampton, VA 23666.

Published in Daily Press on Mar. 8, 2016

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Peter Hale Granzeau’s Gifts to a Baby Brother

by Tim Granzeau

I am Peter’s baby brother and want to share with you the gifts I received from my big brother.  Some of this was only realized in the past few days of reflection.  Even Penny is not aware of all the lessons I received from Peter.  

By the time he went to Kindergarten Peter was reading.  He did not find the curriculum to be interesting and spent his time more creatively.  His teacher, Mrs. Asby, begged our Mother NOT TO TEACH Penny or me how to read in hopes of having quiet students happy to learn new skills.

Being seven years more mature, you would assume that Pete would have babysitting duties during his later elementary school days and high school.  Actually that was not the case.  Peter had a strongly focused mind and ability to ignore the cacophony of noisy children around him.  We both inherited this trait from our Father. Peter’s intellectual curiosity continued through his schooling years and yes, he lacked the patience to babysit and probably never changed my diapers.

In 1949, we had an emergency situation at home and Peter stepped right in to assist.  Mom had backed the car out of the driveway turning the wheel and the passenger door popped open.  Penny flew out of the car, Mom slammed on the brakes and the front wheel slid on the gravel.  Mom told Peter to phone our Dad and headed to the hospital. Dad was a physician-surgeon and listened as Peter provided information about the accident.  He yelled, “Mom just killed Penny and went to the hospital!” and immediately hung up.  Dad broke a few traffic laws in speeding the hospital. From then on Penny and I stood behind the front seat of our Club Coupe for safety.

During high school Peter had excellent grades, never got into trouble, played trombone in the high school band, participated in the Order of DeMolay and was one of two students selected to go to Badger Boy’s State, a leadership conference sponsored by the American Legion.  Unfortunately, his example was a potential gift that I was not ready to embrace.

Peter first gift was to our whole family was Christmas in 1954. He arrived home with Jean LeClerc, a French exchange student who had lost his American host family.  Jean was Pete’s Phi Delta Theta fraternity brother at DePauw University.  Jean’s visit sparked an interest in hosting other exchange students and we were lucky enough to host Detlef Bartelt from Keil, Germany and Petter Skagen from Sauda, Norway.

Jean returned to spend the following summer in Burlington.  We learned about French cooking including a wonderful recipe for CARP, cherries jubilee laced with lots of cognac and French wines.   The French culinary experience became a major part of life for me and all our sons.

Pete had collected a stack of Columbia Record Club Hi-Fi records.  He introduced me to Stan Kenton, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Errol Garner and Dave Brubeck.  From that summer forward jazz became the most important music in my life.  Yes, more important than Rock-N-Roll during the 50’s and 60’s.  That has never changed.

The next summer, Peter arrived with a stack of Road & Track magazines.  His interest in sports cars racing and foreign cars continued until he purchased a Honda 600, affectionately called “Tajo’s Revenge”.  I still have those original magazines and still read them periodically.  I have driven foreign cars ever since.

Peter also taught me about sports car racing.  In 1955 the longest sports car track in the US opened in Elkhart, WI.  Yes, Pete was at Road America on opening day.  He gave me the program and told me all about the track.  I frequently attended sports car races for about 15 years.  Lib and I spent a wonderful weekend at Road America in 1996.  Endurance racing and Formula One remain among my favorite sports.

Peter graduated from DePauw University in 1957 and the whole family spent four days in Greencastle, Indiana.  Peter invited me to spend a night at Phi Delta Theta’s ivy covered mansion during their senior celebration party.  They actually had beer…  It was a wonderful experience for a 15 year old small town boy.

A few weeks later, Pete purchased a brand new MG-A roadster with wire wheels.  Dad took us to S.H. Arnolt in Chicago to pick up the MG.  It immediately began to rain as we left the dealership. Peter and I stopped on Lake Shore Drive, opened the boot to raise the metal roof frame structure, unrolled and fastened the top material, extended the rear window and manually attached the side windows.  During that summer, Pete taught me about double clutching a four speed shift box, drifting through corners at 70 miles per hours and handling a car in the rain and snow.  Learning to drive from Peter was far more exhilarating than driving 15 MPH with Dinty Moore, our 60 year old high school driver’s ed. teacher.

Pete’s ship, the Shasta went to the Mediterranean during the Lebanon political crises in June, 1958.  Before leafing Burlington, Pete shocked me by handing over the keys t0 his beautiful MG-A, telling me to take care of his car and enjoy the drive.  That was a wonderful year.  I was a brand new driver with the coolest car in town.  I took excellent care of the MG and fell in love with the driving experiences.

During the early 196o’s merchants in Burlington, WI frequently called me Peter and I was, let’s say “shy” enough not to correct the mistake.  When Dad ordered a case of beer, the local liquor store gladly allowed me, Pete, to pay and take the case home.  I may have utilized this as a legal deception on a very few occasions.

While our lives took us in different directions the bonds in our family have remained intact.  Peter’s influence on my life has carried over to each of our sons.  Peter’s lessons for me will always remain a major part of who I am.

A few years ago, I shared the impact of these memories with Peter.  I now regret not having spent more time talking with him, Mary Page and their girls about his importance to my life.  I hope that you, Emily and Caroline will accept these stories as a tribute to Peter’s memory.  

Thank you Peter for all of your gifts!  


Detlef Bartelt on Peter Granzeau

Peter’s college exchange student brother lead to the Granzeau’s hosting Detlef Bartelt, a high school student from Keil Germany in 1957 – 1958.

Detlef’s was the first exchange student in Burlington, WI and became an integral part of the Granzeau family for the last 59 years.

He followed in Dr. Granzeau’s footsteps by becoming an MD with a residency at John’s Hopkins and externship in Burlington, WI.  He had a full career as a PhD. Professor of Radiology in Hamburg and later as a full professor at John’s Hopkins.

He visited in Burlington almost every year and also took the time to visit with us in Springfield.  Yes, he is a member of our family.

A few days ago Detlef sent us a beautiful tribute to Peter and I would like to share some of his thoughts with you.

Dear Tim and Lib,

Our sincere condolences on Peter's passing!   Let me share some of my memories in his honor.

I first "met" him on a color-photo of your whole family, taken at his graduation from DePauw.

Tim said, "Pete’s first gift, to the whole family, was Jean LeClerc".  Jean made your family interested in hosting another exchange student.  Very luckily it was me - although I don't know if I matched up to Jean, skin diving experience.  Thanks, Pete!!!  

Peter was home when I arrived.  He spent a lot of time on books and generously let me use his large collection of records, mainly on Jazz.  This made me very happy, since I had been told in Germany that Jazz had fallen by the wayside in the US, save a few colleges.  

I also enjoyed his Road & Track magazines, stashed in our bedroom closet for many years, at least up to 1965?  I also remember you, Tim, taking me to Road America in Elkhart, WI, in 1965 - so this, in a way, I also owe to Peter.  Remember the many MB-300 SL’s there?  You should have bought one (and/or a BMW 507 of 1957 vintage) since the value of the $ was so good, then!  You always held Peter to be the best driver in the family; although Mom and Dad were also very good (Dad without that nuisance of a seat-belt.)

I also admired his red MG-A.  One of my best car-rides ever and remember to this day when he drove me to an American Field Service-meeting in Milwaukee, top-down, of course.  

Sharing similar chemistry as well as love of that MG, I was sad when he left for Officer Training School in Newport, RI - following (as did you, Tim) Dad's advice to join the Navy rather than any other Service branch ("a ship's commander won't easily risk the lives of his charges, because he might go down on the same ship"). He then served on the USS "Shasta", a support ship deployed from Norfolk, VA to the Mediterranean due to the Lebanon crisis.

Pete was a "ninety-day-wonder" (quote Dad, again) with the rank of ensign.  I still have a picture of him in uniform; and also some of his fancy stationary; as a ship-lover I regret, however,  that it's from the "Shasta" and not from a battleship (USS "Wisconsin", of course) or some large carrier.

We met again when he joined us on that wonderful trip to Key West over New Year’s '57/8.  I was sorry again that he had to leave early for military duty.

In fall of 1965, he and his late wife Mary Page were gracious overnight hosts at their home in Mechanicsville, Pa, near Harrisburg, PA.  I then was on my way back to New York, after three very generous months at Mom's and Dad's for my medical externship at Burlington Memorial Hospital.

Mostly I regret never thanking him and congratulating him on his "A sketchy Granzeau family history".  It is far from sketchy; and it is more than "just up my alley"!  I knew about Dad's background in Mecklenburg - Vorpommern - quite near Hamburg, and also the home of Almut's and my paternal family.  

Years ago, I in vain contacted the Delavan Historical Society about Dad’s birthplace.  I've driven down Highway F (Brigg's Road) several times in search of traces and to honor Dad.  I still keep wondering, why Dad never took us there; but I remember you, Tim, mentioning that highway or rural route?  Unfortunately, Peter did not mention the exact location of the farm. Well, given my age and dislike of air-travel, I'll never be back to see it, even if I knew.

So I'll keep reading those "sketches"; and I'm looking very much forward to your forthcoming visit in Hamburg; Tim and Lib.  We'll then have the best champagne to toast Peter.

We feel with you, and - especially - with Emily and Caroline. Love, also to Penny,

Detlef and Almut


Rev. Lisa Gaul’s Eulogy for Peter Granzeau

We celebrate today the life of Pete Granzeau born in NY on May 18, 1935 to Dr. Herbert William Granzeau and Dayle Hampel.  Pete had a sister Penny and brother Tim both who are here today.  There is so much to say about Pete’s life.  From my experience the thread that connects it all was his faith in God.  Jesus saw the crowds so he sat down and began teaching.  He said, “3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  Pete was not poor in spirit.  He was connected to God.  His faith was important to him not just on Sunday morning but in how he lived his life and in his beliefs.  

Pete’s spirit was fed in many ways throughout his life.  Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek”.  Someone who is meek has a gentle quiet spirit.  Peter had a quiet gentle spirit.  He was humble and respectful of others.  Perhaps he learned that while going on house calls with his father.  Pete would have seen his father caring for others through the practice of medicine.  He learned about how to treat others and about life while participating in Boy Scouts.  Pete was a good husband, father and friend.

Some translations of the Beatitudes or Sermon on the Mount say, “Happy are those…”  Peter lived a life filled with happiness and blessedness because he lived life to the fullest, learning and growing, showing mercy to others, living peaceful and rejoicing in the goodness of God’s love in his life.  He gave thanks for the good things in his life and enjoyed the abundance of life that Jesus was talking about in his teaching on that mountainside.

One of Pete’s great loves growing up and throughout his life was music.  He was in the band and played the trombone.  He later watched a program on PBS that taught how to play the guitar.  He would have sing-a-longs with his family and neighbors.  When he was driving his family in their car singing was part of their travels.  Pete sang in church choirs including here at First UCC.  Later in life his vocal cords were damaged and he could no longer sing as he loved to do.  But he still loved music.  He enjoyed when the Good Time Singers would come to sing at the Arbors and then at the Huntingdon.  We sing popular music from the 1920’s -50’s.  At one point he and Mary Paige both sang with the group.  Pete told us that he was glad when we came because we sang different songs.  Other church groups just sang church hymns which he loved, but he also wanted other music.  He usually sang along quietly when we sang.  Pete also played around with the ukulele.  In fact when we Christmas caroled for Pete he held Judith’s ukulele and reminisced.

Pete was a knowledgeable man.  He not only knew about God and faith he knew about most everything in the world.  At least that’s what I think.  Pete graduated from DePauw University and was a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity.   He served as Lieutenant JG in the US Navy.  Pete told me about how he met Mary Page when he was stationed in Norfolk.  After working in the insurance industry he learned about computers.  Pete’s love of computers continued to the end.  I’m not sure I ever walked into his apartment when he wasn’t doing something on his computer.  He liked movies and loved reading books.  When asked what kind of books he was reading he would laugh and say romance.  Of course he read all kinds of books.  Pete was both a founding member of DIGIT, the DIgital Group In Tidewater, and one of its last surviving members.  Pete played bridge and was the winner of the Huntingdon Jeopardy Game.  Everybody wanted to be on his team because he knew most of the answers.  I would have wanted to be on his team.

Pete enjoyed the life God blessed him with.  At the center of it was his wife, his children, his family, friends and God.  He cherished the moments with Mary Page.  He held his breath and probably said a few words and prayers while riding the rides the day he took his daughters to King’s Dominion.  When he lost his wife, he heard Jesus’ words, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”  He missed her but also was surrounded by the love of his Savior and by those who loved him.  He experienced many changes in his life in the past few years but he stayed positive and faced the changes as one blessed by God, well except for not liking the food at the Huntingdon as well as at the Arbors.  However, even after he said that he would shrug his shoulders and say something like, “Yeah, well”.  Then he moved on to talking about other things of interest in the world.  Peter served as a deacon of this church because he was an example to others of a person of faith.  He was an inspiration to those who took the time to get to know him. He was blessed to be a blessing.


If you want to read some writings done by Peter, he wrote the Granzeau history page.
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