Back in the old days, gathering around the kitchen table had a meaning different than today. In the tiny town of Larchwood, Iowa, population 382, it meant that there was no hospital and no resident doctor and when a baby was due you made do. That’s where Dwight Grotewold of Sun Lakes entered this world, on the kitchen table in his parents’ home on July 27, 1927 – an auspicious beginning.
On December 27, 2014, Dwight left this world, leaving it an immeasurably better place than when he entered.
Dwight remained in that little Iowa town until he was 23. Throughout his childhood, he had dreamed of a military career, so he took the competitive examinations and was awarded appointments to both Annapolis and West Point. However, he had marginal color perception and neither Academy accepted him. Consequently, he was drafted and the United States Army Infantry gladly accepted him.
After WW II, he returned to Larchwood to work in his father’s Chevrolet and Oldsmobile dealership. In 1949, he attended the University of South Dakota where he earned a B.S. Degree in Business. In 1954, he married Charlotte and they responded to an opportunity to be seasonal Park Rangers in the Grand Teton National Park.
Then it was off to Patterson, California where Dwight became a sixth grade teacher and Charlotte taught kindergarten. After earning a Master of Personnel Service degree, he was offered a position as the Assistant Director of Admissions at the University of Colorado. Years later, he became their Director of Admissions where he remained for 24 years.
After six years of fighting cancer, Charlotte passed away at the age of 46. Then Dwight served as the Registrar for the Semester-at-Sea program, a program that took 500 college students along with a college faculty to study as they traveled around the world, making stops in 16 foreign countries. “After that,” he reported, “something wonderful happened; I met one of the adult passengers onboard, Lois Chilcott, and she and I hit it off.” Three years later, they were married on the Queen Mary in Long Beach.
Following two and one-half years living in Europe where he served as the Director of Guidance at the International School of Brussels, they returned to the U.S. where Dwight traveled the West Coast recruiting students for the University of Colorado.
Rotary was an important part of his life for over 50 years. He was president of the Boulder (Colorado) Rotary Club in 1963-64; joined Sun Lakes Rotary in 1988 where he helped the club to become known as the “Education Rotary Club” in District 5510. Dwight helped establish the “Teacher of the Month” program; he dedicated much time to recruiting students for the Rotary Youth Exchange program which sends high school students to study in a foreign country for a year. He began a program that sends four students each summer to attend the World Affairs Seminar at the University of Wisconsin; and prepared and implemented the annual “Service Above Self” college scholarships for students from Chandler and Hamilton High. In addition to several important posts at Sun Lakes Rotary, he served one year as Assistant Governor for Rotary District 5510; Rotarian of the Year in 2004-05 for both District 5510 and Sun Lakes Rotary Club and was a Multiple Paul Harris Fellow and Benefactor.
He organized the Rotary Friendship Exchange, taking groups of Rotarians and their partners to countries all around the world for two week stays with Rotary families. He helped organize programs that brought in five groups of Russians to learn about what is happening in their career fields in the U.S. as well as to see capitalism and democracy in action. These various programs led to Rotary Matching Grants that sent 25,000 books to South African schools in need; and more recently, 20,000 books to a very needy school in Bulgaria.
In 2005, under Dwight’s leadership, the Sun Lakes Rotary began a project to encourage reading and word understanding by presenting every third grader throughout the Chandler Unified School District with a dictionary of his or her own. In the succeeding nine years, over 27,000 dictionaries have been given.
Not enough? Under his leadership, Dwight spearheaded the drive to raise the money to build the Ed Robson Branch Library – Sun Lakes. Carolyn Farnsworth, who served as his Treasurer said, “President Dwight was tireless and never gave up in the fundraising. He worked with the County Library folks to have them pay the final construction costs, stock and furnish the library, and take over the running of the library. And if he thought of something else, he would get them to come to another meeting to negotiate that. What he did was unbelievable.”
Not long ago, as Dwight thought about his past, he said, “I have had an angel sitting on my shoulder much of my life,” and added, “Hasn’t it been a great run!”
Dwight’s wife Lois, their four children (Steve, Tom, David and Kathy), seven grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and brothers Dwayne and Roger survive him.