John Michael Gruden, 81, passed away Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, at Tendercare Alpena.

John was born May 9, 1935, and raised in Eveleth, Minn., the son of John Frank and Julia (Krall) Gruden, he attended Eveleth Junior College then continued his education at The University of North Dakota in Grand Forks on a football scholarship. Upon graduation, he moved to Royal Oak, Mich., teaching industrial arts and coaching football and track in Madison Heights. John served in the United States Army National Guard. He married Geraldine Plotnik on Aug. 19, 1956. He quickly advanced within the district and became an assistant principal at Wilkenson Junior High. After receiving his Master’s in Education from Eastern Michigan University in 1967, he moved his family to Alcona County, becoming the Principal of Alcona High School, and seven years later became the Superintendent of Schools for Alcona County. In 1976, he moved the family to Alpena where he was the Director of Secondary Education, Director of Transportation and Athletic Director finally retiring in 1993. He also officiated high school basketball games for 35 years during his career.

John had a passion for the outdoors. Hunting at the camp, fishing on the Big Lake and golfing multiple times a week with his friends kept him busy. He was an avid Detroit sports fan and never gave up on the Lions. His Slovenian roots gave him his love of gardening and cooking outside. He made some of the best pasties and smoked fish in the area. John was a member of the Elks club and a member of St. John the Baptist Church where he was an usher and volunteered frequently.

He leaves his wife of 60 years, Geraldine; daughters Suzanne Gruden of Hazel Park, Mich., Sheilah (Steven) Alexander of Madison Heights, Mich., Sharon (Orlando) Blanco of Bloomfield Hills, Mich.; and son Dr. Gregory (Kathleen) Gruden of Royal Oak, Mich. John also leaves behind seven grandchildren, Stephanie Alexander, Andrea (Mark Jacobs) Blanco, Victoria Alexander, Luisa Blanco, John Alexander, Maria Blanco and Michael Blanco. He will be missed by his sister Joan Tomassilli; brothers Robert (Diane) Gruden, William (Linda) Gruden; and sister Katherine (Rick) Hocevar.

Mr. Gruden was preceded in death by brother-in-law, Anthony Tamassilli.

Visitation will be at the Bannan Funeral Home on Friday from 2-8 p.m. with Military Honors at 5 p.m. by Alpena V.F.W. Post 2496 and a parish prayer service at 7 p.m. Visitation will continue Saturday at St. John the Baptist Church of All Saints Parish from 10 a.m. until mass of Christian burial at 11 a.m. with Rev. Joseph Muszkiewicz officiating.

Memorials: All Saints Parish