Rev. Dr. Rachel B. Grunau was born April 10, 1924, to the late Lawrence and Esther Bumgardner of Belmont, Ohio. She passed away on August 21, 2021, at the age of 97, with her son and daughter by her side. Rachel is survived by her children Gordon Grunau (Audrey), Garnet Golightley, and Amber Grunau; grandchildren David Golightley (Theresa), Emily Knetzer (Jeffrey), Matthew Golightley, and Valerie Curnutte (Ben); great granddaughter Grace Golightley; and sister, Vida Cowgill, along with many nieces and nephews. Rachel was preceded in death by her loving husband, Vernon C. Grunau, and her dear siblings: Lawrence, Clark, Maxine, Willa, and Nancy.
At the age of 19, Rachel left her family home in rural, Belmont, Ohio to pursue her dream of a college education – something women of her era didn’t often attempt. She was enterprising and talented in various ways and often sewed her own clothing. Rachel was eventually able to work her way North to attend Cleveland Bible College and went on to earn a bachelor's degree from Baldwin Wallace University, and both a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry in Theology from Ashland Theological Seminary. Her advanced degrees were earned through much hard work and countless night courses, all while raising her family.
Rachel was an ordained United Church of Christ minister and pastored her congregation in Grand River, Ohio. She also substituted on behalf of vacationing pastors in and around Cleveland, Ohio, and was a Delegate to National Denominational Conferences. Besides her religious endeavors she took on other roles and responsibilities, including as a member of the Women’s City Club of Cleveland and PTA President at her children’s schools.
After Rachel’s husband retired in 1976, the pair spent decades traveling the world and visiting almost every state in the U.S. Besides being an ambitious woman who followed her dreams, she was also a much beloved wife and cherished mother. Rachel’s remains will be placed with her husband’s at the National Veterans Cemetery in Rittman, Ohio.
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