Ellen F. Gruber
August 06, 1929 ‒ December 24, 2017
On the morning I gave birth to my daughter, my grandma was the first call I made. She answered the phone and I immediately said, ‘grandma, you are a great-grandma.’ To that, she quickly responded, ‘I always was.’
She was right. She always was a great grandma. The grandmother to four grandchildren, Frances-Jo Hamilton, Andrea Lynn Hecker, Frank Richard Hamilton III, and Kenneth William Gruber Hamilton, Ellen Gruber was among the best of the best grandmas.
Our grandma smelled of Moon Drops and Oil of Olay. She worked a full time job and still had time to play. She took care of grandpa and her mother. She managed a home, a business and was a downtown building owner. She was the first woman to work at the Delaware Police Department and turned down a chance at a full ride to college in exchange for a type writer during the depression. Of course, a woman in the depression needed a typewriter far more than a college education! She knew what made a martini a martini. She was a woman before her time and an example of strength and independence, and she taught us to be the same.
She taught us to do what we love, that nothing is expected of us except to be happy. Our lives as her grandchildren varied and were often not conventional and grandma stood by us all in everything we did. She was proud of each of us and for so many different reasons.
Grandma was a lover of Delaware. It was her home. She was proud to live here and raised us to love this place. She adored her little downtown and supported local business. She taught us how important community is to a family and that we should protect our core.
During the summer, we all had our turn being an ‘only child’ at grandma and grandpa’s house. Every day she let us chose one meal which to eat out, and we walked into the downtown to visit places like Pizza Villa and the Hamburger Inn. We went to Pilsner’s Five and Dime where we got to pick out a toy from downstairs. She gave us responsibility, like going inside on our own to pay for the pizza, even though we could not see over the counter. She let us build leaf houses on her lawn. She always had a swing set, she tried to keep us out of the Delaware run, and played dress-up with us. Her breezeway always had a child-height dispenser of paper cups and Kool-Aid made. She made the time and it mattered.
Grandma’s house was our home away from home. She was ready at the drop of a hat to host the grandchildren because we had clothes and a toothbrush at her house, just like we did at home. She rode every bike each of us ever owned and skipped and danced with us.
We marched around the house to her Ruth Lyons album, It’s Christmastime Again, with candy canes and decorated the Christmas tree. She always invited Santa to her house and had old fashioned colored lights on her tree that flashed.
When we were grown, she spent hours with us on the phone in joy and crisis. She came to our houses when we screwed up a recipe, even if it was Christmas eve in the middle of the night (when I had used my last packet of yeast). She is the source of so many of our family traditions, she is the reason we grow sweet pea flowers in spring and bake bubble bread at Christmas, and the reason that we will all be such great grandparents ourselves one day.
Ellen Frances Gruber left her loving family on Christmas Eve Morning, December 24, 2017, was preceded in death by her loving husband, who, according to her, was a fantastic dancer, Kenneth William Gruber. She was also preceded in death by her mother, Josephine Sheets and her grandson, Frank Richard Hamilton III. She is survived by her son, George Kenneth Gruber, daughter, Emma-Jo Gruber, granddaughters, Frances-Jo Hamilton, Andrea Lynn Hecker, grandson, Kenneth William Gruber Hamilton and great-grandchildren, Frances Marie Hamilton, Daniel Joseph Wright and Connor Matthew Wright. We lost our best friend that day and many of our secrets died with her. Thank you, grandma! You are our favorite.
Memorial services celebrating Ellen’s life will be held at a later date. To share a fond memory or to leave a message of condolence please visit www. snyderfuneralhomes.com
The Snyder-Rodman Funeral Center in Delaware is honored to serve Ellen’s family.