John E. Grotberg
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Illinois's 14th district
January 3, 1985 - November 15, 1986
|Member of the Illinois Senate|
|Member of the Illinois House of Representatives|
|Born||March 21, 1925|
Winnebago, Minnesota, U.S.
|Died||November 15, 1986 (aged 61)|
St. Charles, Illinois, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of Chicago|
George Williams College
John E. Grotberg (March 21, 1925 - November 15, 1986) was a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from Illinois serving from 1985 until his death from bronchial pneumonia and colon cancer in St. Charles, Illinois in 1986.
Grotberg, the fourth of eight children of Bernard and Sophie (née Weir) Grotberg, was born in Winnebago, Minnesota, and grew up in Valley City, North Dakota. His early career was in music as a singer with The Muny (the Municipal Opera Association) in St. Louis, and he also performed in Chicago. For many years he managed the Men's Shop at the YMCA Hotel in Chicago, expanding into public relations work for the hotel, and eventually becoming corporate Director of Financial Development for the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago.
During this time he also completed his college education at George Williams College, graduating with a B.S. in 1961. He worked for the newly opened Pheasant Run Lodge and Resort as well as performed in their lounge with his wife, Jean. He then was owner and President of John E. Grotberg and Associates, Financial Development Consultants, and General Manager of the Hotel Baker, a retirement home run by the Lutheran Social Services of Illinois.
A resident of St. Charles, Illinois, since 1955, and active in many civic and social organizations, Grotberg was an enthusiastic supporter of the fine arts, having been engaged in many musical and theatrical enterprises himself. Among Grotberg's civic accomplishments were the founding of the Tri-City Youth Project for Geneva, Batavia, and St. Charles (now TriCity Family Services), providing needed companionship and entertainment for area youths, and the Fox Valley Volunteer Hospice.
He left his job to enter politics in 1973. From 1973-77, Grotberg served two terms in the Illinois House of Representatives, and in 1976, he easily won an election to the Illinois Senate where he served three terms as Illinois State Senator (1977-85), the last four years of which he was the Assistant Republican Leader. As a ranking Republican in the Illinois legislature, he won election to Congress in November, 1984 for an open seat in a heavily Republican district, and was a member of the Banking, Finance, and Urban Affairs and Small Business Committees.
Two bills which carried his mark were an amendment to the Defense Department authorization urging the armed forces to "use domestic equipment when entertaining in federal buildings" (prompted by an observation of a Yamaha piano being used by the Navy Choir at the Capitol)  and Public Law 99-202, the Save for the USA Year, which resulted in "the largest number of savings bonds sales in the United States in several decades."
Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) recounted how she, as a "sophomore", and Grotberg, as a "freshman", walked right into Senator Strom Thurmond's office unannounced and asked for his help to get the Savings Bond bill taken up by the Senate. He complied on the spot; the next day Senator Robert Dole scheduled it for the floor; and on December 16, 1985, 4 days after the House passed the bill, the Senate had too, and President Ronald Reagan signed it into law.
During much of his political career, Grotberg successfully battled cancer, including experimental treatments at the National Institutes of Health that later became standard therapies throughout the US and the world. As a pioneer patient, Grotberg gave to the future and died at home surrounded by his wife and five children on November 15, 1986.
Following a funeral at Baker Memorial Methodist Church in St. Charles (where he had been a longtime member and regular soloist), he was buried in Union Cemetery with full military honors. The inscription on his monument reads, "Husband, Father, Statesman, Friend - He was here!" He was succeeded in Congress by future Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. Fellow Illinois Republican Congressman George M. O'Brien too died of cancer just four months earlier.
The Fox Valley Volunteer Hospice named the John Grotberg Legacy Society to honor his dedication to the needs and dignity of the ill and infirm. On August 18, 1987 the US Post Office Building in St. Charles, IL was named the John E. Grotberg Post Office Building. The Fox Valley Chapter of VietNow named its center in Batavia the John E. Grotberg Community Veterans Center.
He was married to Edith Henderson Grotberg from 1947-62, and to Elizabeth Jean Shierling Grotberg from 1963 until his death. He was the father of five children.