News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Robert Ernest Grooney April 3, 1929 – September 30, 2022

Robert Ernest Grooney passed away peacefully in his sleep surrounded by friends and family, at his home in Sisters.

He grew up tough, with five brothers during the Great Depression in Hollywood, California. Even though his father was a musical conductor who always wore a top hat, they had to be innovative to get by, trading a dozen “alligator pears” (avocados) that grew in their back yard for a dozen eggs from the neighbor. He and his brothers even earned enough nickels to buy their mom a washing machine and take themselves out to the movies. He had a paper route at a very early age, which was no doubt the start of his business prowess.

In high school he participated in a youth military program similar to ROTC of today. Subsequently, at age 15, he was able to join the Marine Corps due do his tall height and excellent bearing. He served in the Pacific Campaign of World War II, where he received a Purple Heart, and fought in the battle of Iwo Jima. He also drove a jeep for a colonel and served as an MP and had a few stories of detaining drunken sailors and Marines from bars.

After the war, Bob got a job at Ralph’s Grocery in Southern California, where he quickly excelled, and became the youngest store manager in the region. He was invited to Japan to help set up a grocery store, where he gained a lifetime appreciation for Japanese culture and food; he would often surprise Japanese tourists in The Gallimaufry by speaking to them in Japanese.

He met his wife, Claudia, when she was a bookkeeper at Ralph’s and they honeymooned in Hawaii.

Years later, they were driving through Sisters to visit Claudia’s parents and fell in love with the small town.

They decided to do whatever it took to live here and started Grooney’s Gallimaufry in 1979 as a health food store.

Eventually, after years of adaptation, The Gallimaufry became a gift/liquor store.

Together they ran the store for nearly 40 years.

During that time, he was involved in just about every organization in Sisters: Kiwanis Club, Sisters School Board, CATS (Community Action Team), the Sisters Area Chamber of Commerce, Men Against Violence, and even emceed at the sled dog races.

Bob and Claudia traveled to many countries with a distillery tour group, enjoying Scotland a few times. Even though he could be tough when needed, he was always a softy for babies, and he got to see pictures of his first great-great grandson, who was born this August.

“Papa” as he was affectionately known by his family was quick-witted and always prepared with a joke. A very funny man, he was the life of any party, and loved to entertain.

Bob is survived by his wife, Claudia, and his daughters: Sheri, Tanisha, Vicky, Tami, and Kim, as well as his nephews Denis and Mike, grandson Spud, and many more grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

A celebration of life is to be held on his birthday, April 3, 2023, in Sisters. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Kiwanis Club of Sisters.


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