Painting pays tribute to Sisters icon

 

Last updated 5/31/2022 at Noon

JIM HORSLEY

Bob Grooney helped to make Sisters what it is today. He pioneered one of its signature businesses, known as the Gallimaufry, which was Sisters’ liquor store (now operated by his grandson Spud Shaw. He served on the Sisters School Board and the board of the Sisters Area Chamber of Commerce.

Grooney is now in his 90s. As a teenager, Grooney was a United States Marine who fought in one of the most savage and well-remembered battles of World War II — the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Sisters artist and retired Navy aviator Jim Horsley has just completed a painting honoring Grooney’s military service. A 2016 profile of Grooney by Craig Rullman in the Sisters Oregon Guide is republished here in tribute to Grooney’s lifetime of service in and out of uniform:

The owner of Sisters’ only liquor store, The Gallimaufry, Bob Grooney is accustomed to explaining what the word means.

“When we first came here, my wife wanted to call our store the Persnickety Cat,” Bob says, with his trademark wry smile. “I told her I didn’t know if that would work, so we ended up calling it The Gallimaufry.”

The word is Gaelic, Bob explains, meaning a hodge-podge, and it “encompasses what I wanted to do with the store.”

The youngest of four brothers, Bob was born in 1926, and raised in Los Angeles. At the age of 15 he joined the Marine Corps, was assigned as a rifleman to the 25th Marines, of the 4th Marine Division, and fought on Iwo Jima. Bob demures when speaking about his participation in one of the most ferocious battles in human history.

“I was just a scared kid,” he says.

After the war Bob returned to Los Angeles, and the lure of Hollywood, where he worked as a driver for various motion picture studios, including Warner Bros., Paramount, Columbia, and Fox. But the work wasn’t steady enough, and came with too much uncertainty, so Bob reenlisted in the Marine Corps, and the Corps packed him off to China, Guam, and Japan, where he served with the occupation forces as General Douglas MacArthur rebuilt the country.

When his second hitch was up, Grooney returned once again to Southern California, and spent the next 27 years working for the Ralph’s grocery store chain. The company recognized Bob’s skills in building teams, building businesses, keeping them cohesive and productive, and ultimately he was reassigned to the Bay Area, where he opened 130 stores in the San Jose, Los Altos, Santa Clara region.

In 1977, on a trip to Hood River, Oregon to visit friends, Bob and his wife of 44 years, Claudia, made a stop in Sisters. Bob remembers thinking, “That’s the way I want to live.”

In 1979 Bob and Claudia bought property in Indian Ford, and on July 1, 1979, they opened their first store in Sisters.

Grooney had wanted to open a natural food store, but Sisters was a different town in those days.

“There weren’t a lot of people around to buy anything,” Grooney says, and as a consequence the store moved several times before finding a home on the corner of Cascade and Elm Streets.

This year Bob is celebrating his 42nd year as a member of Kiwanis. He also served on the Sisters Area Chamber of Commerce for 26 years, and was on the Sisters School Board during the 1980s and ’90s. He cites the return of Sisters High School in 1992 as one of the major accomplishments he was proud to be a part of during his tenure.

Bringing the high school back, Bob says, “helped the community become whole again,” bringing “a new level of activities, and interest, and dedication” to Sisters Country.

Bob and Claudia have five daughters, 13 grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, and Bob says, “There is a good chance we’ll have some great-great-grandkids before long.”

Bob has turned over the day-to-day operations of The Gallimaufry to his grandson, Spud Shaw, but can still be seen at the store on occasion. He simply loves Sisters, and talking with people who come into the store.

“I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to go to work,” Bob says. “Just conversing with folks you learn a lot.”

Grooney will turn 87 in April, and his passion for Sisters Country has never waned.

“There are so many fantastic people from all walks of life, it blows me away, the quality of people who understand this is a fantastic place to raise kids,” he says. “I think of all the volunteers in the community, and it just blows me away.”

 

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