by Diane Rockall
Anyone who meets Jennifer Grumelot is bound to see that her life centers on three things: her religious faith, her family and her community. Now, after 55 years of service to the Stockbridge Community Grumelot says she is retiring. When asked about her volunteer efforts, she recalled her first volunteer project in her childhood church, Lincoln Park Presbyterian. There, she assisted the kindergarten Sunday school teacher—a natural fit, since Grumelot had decided as a second grader that she wanted to become a kindergarten teacher.
During high school the young woman became involved in the Future Teachers organization, and she went on to study early education at Eastern Michigan University. While working on the “party crew,” a group of students who served at university functions and banquets, she met Ed Grumelot. The two married while in college and have been lifetime companions ever since.
Because of Ed’s preparation for military service at the completion of his education, they purchased a trailer. They could travel to posts, they thought, and their growing family could live more economically. “Unfortunately, our first assignment was Hawaii.” Grumelot grinned. “We stored the trailer in Unadilla.”
From Hawaii, Ed was sent to Vietnam, so Jennifer returned to the trailer with their oldest children, Scott and Suzy. On Ed’s return, the family settled in Unadilla. Jennifer worked as a substitute teacher while Ed was periodically away. The Unadilla Presbyterian Church helped the couple locate a site for their trailer. The adjacent land was for sale, so the Grumelots bought it. There, they ultimately built the house they live in today. In it they raised eight children, six natural born and two adopted. “We think of them as our own,” Grumelot said. In addition, the couple hosted three foreign exchange students.
In 1966 Ed was serving overseas again. Then, Jennifer began a Santa at School program, and her other early school projects included a Halloween parade with costume judging. Finally, Ed was sent home. He served as Cub Scout leader; Jen as Brownie leader. The two migrated to older packs and troops as their children grew.
After 13 years with Unadilla Presbyterian Church, the family joined the Stockbridge Presbyterian Church where they are active today. Jen has taught Sunday school, was Sunday school superintendent, and taught Bible Study. In the ’80s she and Ed started the student-named “Cool Christian Kids,” which they continued to run until 1995. Jen has served as treasurer for the Presbyterian Women’s Group since the ’80s as well.
Ed joined the Lions in 1985, and Jen became a Lioness in 1986. Almost at once, she became the groups’ treasurer, a position she has held continuously except during her years as president. Meanwhile, Ed served as Lions president as well as district governor, in addition to various state and international posts.
Jennifer Grumelot became the first female Stockbridge Lions member in 1996. After that other couples joined. Easter egg hunts, Christmas parties and tree sales, scholarships, school honors nights, Valentines dinner dances, band performances, and picnics—whatever the Lions activity, the Grumelots were working behind the scenes.
December 2005, Darwin Snider, Jennifer and Ed Grumelot initiated the Stockbridge Lions’ purchase of planes that became the Lions Air Force. In addition to parades throughout Michigan, the planes have been used in Lions International parades in Montreal, Philadelphia, Denver, Indianapolis, Minneapolis. Most recently the planes whirled and twirled down Main Street during Stockbridge’s Festival of Lights.
The Lions have recognized both Grumelots with numerous awards, including the Presidents’ Appreciation Award, plus the Lion’s top honor, the Melvin Jones Award. At their December meeting, the Stockbridge Branch presented the couple with a Special Appreciation Award.
Both retired from Stockbridge Community Schools in 1995. Jennifer, who had spent nearly her entire career as Kindergarten teacher at Gregory’s Howlett School, recalls helping entire classes put on their boots, rambunctious children, parental concerns, and a schedule that required mad dashes from AM kindergarten in Stockbridge to PM kindergarten in Gregory.
Grumelot began running the Stockbridge Blood Drive for the American Red Cross during the 1980’s where she found volunteers to make and serve refreshments, assist during the drive, and schedule appointments for donations. (See Blood Drive story elsewhere in this publication.)
When asked for words of advice for others, Grumelot suggested two sayings. Always leave things cleaner than you found them, and If you have something nice to say, say it. Otherwise don’t say anything at all.
How does Grumelot do it all? “God is with me in all I do,” she said. “I have a daily walk with him.” Now, as Grumelot begins to scale back, she clearly will not walk alone.