Home 9 Obituaries 9 Louise “Ella” Gruenberg

Louise “Ella” Gruenberg

June 24, 2019 - June 29, 2019

Louise “Ella” Gruenberg Louise “Ella” Gruenberg
    July 6, 2019 | 10:30 A.M. to 11:30 A.M
  • St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church
    820 Division Street
    Lisle, Illinois 60532
  • Funeral
  • July 6, 2019 | 11:30 A.M.
  • St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church
    820 Division Street
    Lisle, Illinois 60532
  • Burial Location

Louise “Ella” Gruenberg, 95

25-year Volunteer was always Generous with her time

Vascular dementia forced this Chicago native and 48+ year Oak Parker to relocate—first to her daughter Mary’s and then to Inspirations in St. Charles, IL where she peacefully passed on June 29.

Services to be held at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church, 820 Division St, Lisle, Saturday, July 6th with visitation at 10:30 followed by mass at 11:30. Donations may be made to CADC or the Economy Shop.

Ella’s life is rich in stories, starting with the actual date of her birth.  Her certificate lists June 24, 1924. Her mother, Luisa Schiappicasse Casazza asserted that she was born on the 22–and the doctor who attended the home birth simply didn’t record it correctly. Who would you believe? This discrepancy made it possible for Ella to celebrate twice whenever she felt like it.

Growing up in the depression era, she began work at an early age in the hospitality industry at the Palmer House hotel. A favorite guest would pop into the employees-only kitchen and request two prunes from her each morning—family lore is that it was Conrad Hilton.

Her next job had her taking the streetcar out to Mars Candy. She raved about the cleanliness (which she replicated once she had her own home) and loved that she could eat chocolate every day. She became a lifelong fan of Milky Way bars.

Post WWII, she met her future husband, Wesley Gruenberg when he rang the “wrong” doorbell in response to a Room for Rent sign. It was no whirlwind romance, when he saved up enough money for a used car and asked her to go on a drive with him, she flatly declined.  Fortunately, he persisted. In 1950, they applied for a marriage license and she obtained the needed copy of her birth certificate. Imagine her surprise to discover, at age 26, that Ella was her middle name!

In 1965, a larger home was needed for the growing family of six. They found their French Normandy Tudor on Fair Oaks Avenue in Oak Park and a short while later a fifth child completed the family. All who visited her home benefited from her hospitality as a purveyor of excellent coffee and comfort food. She was especially noted for making a world-class meat loaf from sirloin that she ground herself. Although Ella wasn’t up on every nutritional trend, in the 1970s when scientists declared that olive oil was mono-unsaturated and therefore bad for you, she was quick to declare that they couldn’t possibly be right. Thirty years or so later, scientists did an about face and declared olive oil to be a cornerstone of heart-healthy diets. Score another one for Ella!

A long-time friend and Mars co-worker, Irma Odachowski, couldn’t believe that Ella lived in Oak Park and didn’t know of the Economy Shop. This introduction eventually led to her volunteering in “Better Dresses” for a quarter century where she folded and bagged purchases and treated customers to her charms—a listening ear, a dazzling smile and those bright hazel eyes!

Ella was predeceased by her parents, Luisa and Eugenio Casazza, her husband, Wesley Ivan Gruenberg, Sr., her sister Teresa Casazza Ferrero (Frank), her brothers Eugene (Margaret Conti Casazza) and John (Marie Caprini Casazza), son-in-law David Walwark, Sr. and daughter-in-law Diana “Dede” Massaro Gruenberg.

Surviving children: Wesley Jr. (the late Dede), Louise (the late David), Carl (Cyndi Beste), Mary (Nora English), and Laura (John Woods). Grandchildren: Louisa Walwark Kwasigroch (Nick), Wesley Gruenberg III (Brigitta Ruggiero), David Walwark, Jr., Kirsten Gruenberg Hughey (Richard), Ashley Gruenberg Cecchetti (Andrew), Gretchen Gruenberg, Carl Gruenberg, Jr. (Lilli McGinness), James Walwark, and devoted assistant caregivers of their beloved grandma Amelia Woods and Eleni Woods. Of Ella’s great-grandchildren there’s one named after her-but Louise rather than Ella.


Erin Elliott from Westchester , IL

"Rest in peace. Your mother lived a beautiful wonderful long life and can now Rest In Peace with your father. God bless her. My thoughts and prayers are with your family."

Brenda Bortko from Antioch, IL

"To Mary Gruenberg, Family and Friends, I am deeply sorry for your loss. Ella sounds like a wonderful person that I would have enjoyed getting to know. I am sure she will be missed. I pray that your sweet memories bring you comfort in your time of need. May God be with you during this difficult time."

Laura Woods from Oak Park, IL

"To by siblings and my cousins, the end of an era has passed. Do you recall Aunt Marie and Uncle John coming over on Friday nights to have coffee and ice cream and watch the Tonight Show? Aunt Theresa and mom baking biscotti. The family reunion where Uncle Gene and Aunt Margaret drove down to Kalamazoo and we all drove up from Chicago. They were doing this while we were kids, where did we go wrong? We need to make an annual family gathering a reality again so that our kids get to know one another outside of weddings and funerals."

Jonathan Keck from Saint Charles, IL

"I'm so sorry I won't be there to pay my respects. You and your family will be in our prayers. What a great life and great family....beautiful write up. Salute!"

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