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George Grune, former Reader's Digest exec and Westport resident, dies at 84

Published 4:07 pm, Tuesday, April 23, 2013
  • George V. Grune, former chairman and chief executive of the ReaderĂ­s Digest Association and 30-year Westport resident, died April 17 in Florida, where he most recently lived. Photo: Contributed Photo / Westport News contributed
    George V. Grune, former chairman and chief executive of the ReaderĂ­s Digest Association and 30-year Westport resident, died April 17 in Florida, where he most recently lived. Photo: Contributed Photo

 

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George Vincent Grune, the former chairman and chief executive of the Reader's Digest Association and 30-year Westport resident, died April 17 of complications following open-heart surgery at the Jacksonville Mayo Clinic Hospital in Florida.

Most recently a resident of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Grune was 84.

Grune had been chairman and chief executive of the Reader's Digest Association from 1984 until his retirement in the late-1990s. He joined Reader's Digest in 1960 in advertising sales, and was selected to manage advertising offices in Pittsburgh, New York and internationally, and then subsequently was promoted to manage the books and recorded music division and various international businesses. He became publisher before being named chairman and CEO in 1984.

Born in White Plains, N.Y., Grune graduated from White Plains High School, where he played football, basketball and track.

He attended Duke University on a full football scholarship, and there met his wife of 60 years, Betty Lu. After graduating from Duke in 1952, he joined the Marine Corps, where he served on active duty for two years and then in the Reserves until being honorably discharged in 1964 as a captain.

Grune also was chairman of the Wallace Funds, foundations created by Digest founders Dewitt and Lila Wallace to support organizations benefiting education, youth, arts and culture. He also served on the corporate boards of Avon, Best Foods, Chase Manhattan Bank and Federated Department Stores.

Grune was the recipient of awards in business and philanthropy, including Publisher of the Year from the Magazine Publishers of America. He also received the National Medal of Arts from the White House and the Herbert Hoover Humanitarian Award from the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. He also served on local YMCA boards in Westport, New Brunswick, N.J., and Pittsburgh, as well as the National Outward Bound board. Since his retirement and move to Ponte Vedra Beach, he served on the boards of Jacksonville's Cummer Museum of Arts, the Jacksonville Symphony and the Northeast Florida Boys & Girls Clubs.

He is survived by his wife, Betty Lu, and three sons, George Grune Jr., his wife Judy and children Heather, Lindsey and George III; Robert Grune, his wife Joan and children Alexandra, Robert Jr. and Jordan, and Steven Grune, his wife Nancy and children Steven Jr., Natalie and Kevin.

Services were set for 11 a.m. April 24 in Palms Presbyterian Church in Ponte Vedra Beach. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the National Boys and Girls Clubs of America at 1275 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta GA 30309-3506 or at www.bgca.org; or to the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra at 300 Water St., Suite 200, Jacksonville FL 32202 or at www.jaxsymphony.org