Myrna Luray Grunden, 79 of Curtis passed away March 8, 2016, after a fearless, courageous battle with pancreatic cancer.
Myrna was born March 3, 1937, to Arnold & Vera (Aldrich) Hibbs on the family farm near Elwood, Nebraska. Her earliest memory was singing “Jesus Loves Me”, to her Grandma Aldrich’s Circle at the Methodist Church in Arapahoe when she was 2 years old. She stood on a chair with her Grandma right beside her. From then on, music was an important part of her life as her family often sang together in the home and in church, always in harmony. Myrna attended Elwood Public Schools into second grade, until her family moved 1 ½ miles from Smithfield, where she then finished out her elementary education at Smithfield Public Schools. Her first two years of high school were completed at Elwood. Her final two years were spent at the University of Nebraska School of Agriculture in Curtis, where she met her future husband, Harvey Grunden. Music continued to be an important part of her high school career as she sang vocals, duets and cantatas whenever possible. She also sang in every church in Curtis except one. By the time she graduated, she and Harvey knew they would soon be married. They felt so strong about it that although Myrna had graduated with honors and had received a regents to UNL, she begged the school to give the scholarship to someone else so they could be closer together. She went to Kearney where she received her certificate in teaching. They finally told her parents 15 years after they married, that she’d given up a full ride to UNL for love.
Myrna and Harvey were married on June 26, 1955. They made their home over on the George Schick place for just over 5 years before moving to the home place in 1961. Myrna taught at the Mesa School District #79 for five years and also taught at The Denmark School before staying home to raise and tend her family. Teaching was a very significant part of Myrna’s life. She considered herself, always a teacher. She loved teaching and carried her love for her students with her always. She knew it was returned, as she heard from each and every one of the students at the Denmark School, when she and Harvey celebrated their 50th anniversary. Those kids probably don’t realize how much that meant to her but she mentioned it often over the years.
She may have retired from teaching to raise her family, but still considered herself a teacher when raising them. To help provide, she also raised a large, plentiful garden and canned everything she could. As the children grew, she worked for Harvey for a month before telling him that she’d found a job elsewhere. Myrna took a job at Hilltop Nursery in Moorefield, starting out as a planter, working through several departments until finally settling into the marketing division, selling flowers and seedlings across the U.S. Marketing was a passion and Myrna loved the challenge.
When she and Harvey began raising Morgan horses in 1969, she started in a new sales position. For a lady who had ridden very little was a vital part of the family operation. Myrna loved the horses as much as the entire family and soon much of their life revolved around them. She knew the bloodlines and the personalities of the stock and could match buyer and horse perfectly and she had a knack for remembering everyone she ever met or visited with over the phone. One of her proudest accomplishments was selling the first Morgan horse to Germany in 1979. As much as Myrna enjoyed the challenge of the sale, the best part of raising the horses wasn’t the marketing; it was meeting the people and the lasting friendships they were able to make across the U.S. and around the world that she enjoyed the most. She truly loved people!
She dedicated much of her life and time to the promotion of their personal operation but also, the breed itself. She was a tireless educator of the Morgan horse. She served on the National Committee Board for the AMHA for 17 years, was the editor of the Missouri Valley Morgan Horse Club Newsletter for over 16 years and announced the Morgan Show at the Nebraska State Fair for nearly 40 years. She was also a member of the FCE for 60 years and a member of the Congregational Church in Curtis until it closed.
Another of Myrna’s passions was collecting. Recipes, coupons, big purses and bold jewelry…anything with bright colors. She loved her family, friends, neighbors and everyone she met. She could strike up a conversation in a room filled with strangers and leave with a few new best friends, some exchanged recipes and a new friend to put on the Christmas card list. She loved all her dear friends with the FCE club where she served as Western Director, the Morgan Horse community and all her neighbors, relatives & friends.
Above all, she was proudest of raising her family. She is survived by Harvey, her husband of 60 years; Harlan (Tammy) of Curtis; Gina (Dennis) Essink of Syracuse; and Harris (Joanie) of Maxwell; grand- children Hance Grunden of Curtis; Megan (Dawson) Welch and their sons, Lane & Jett of Moorefield; Brandon & John Essink of Syracuse; Jace & Dallas Grunden of Maxwell; her brother Jerrold (Jan) Hibbs of Smithfield; and a host of family & friends. She will be missed by all who knew & loved her.
She was preceded in death by infant son, parents, Arnold & Vera Hibbs, in-laws, Forrest & Blanche Grunden.
Myrna requested memorials be directed to either Curtis Volunteer Fire & Rescue or the Curtis Methodist Church.
Visitation will be held at Blase-Wetzel-Strauser Memorial Chapel, Curtis, Nebraska; Friday, March 11, 2016, 2:00 pm - 8:00 pm with the family present from 5:00-7:00 pm.
Services will be held at First United Methodist Church, Curtis, NE, March 12, 2016 at 10:30 am.
Burial will follow in the Curtis Cemetery, Curtis, NE.
To sign the online guest book, go to www.blasestrauser.com.