"As they say, 'give your time, talent and treasure,'" said Gary Gruber while looking across the coffee table at Dina, his wife of 43 years.
Gary Gruber was not yet Chief Operating Officer and President of Great American Insurance when a lovely young Italian lady named Dina caught his eye. Dina, then a seamstress, will tell you emphatically that she was not asking Gary, the handsome warehouse worker, out on a date. She had two tickets for her upcoming naturalization ceremony where she would become a United States citizen. It was an important life event and NOT a date.
The Grubers had been married for only a year when Gary was hired by Great American Insurance as an accounting trainee in 1977. The ensuing four decades were filled with children and grandchildren, promotions, volunteer work and the church. In this crafting of a family with lives well-lived, the organizing principle was always Christ. Gary stated unequivocally, "Our life centers around the Church."
About 20 years ago, Gary was approached by Deacon Tom Westerfield of Our Lady of Lourdes Church about a possible volunteer opportunity that might be a good fit. Deacon Westerfield was in a position to know considering the Gruber family's longtime involvement and devotion to the parish- the same parish in which Gary was baptized as an infant. With that, Gary joined the Advancement Committee for Mount St. Mary's Seminary & School of Theology (MTSM) where he grew to know and love the institution and the work they do. He offered support financially and also by freely sharing his expertise. Archbishop Daniel Schnurr, knowing of the Gruber family's devotion to the Church, approached Gary not only about a monetary gift to the capital fund but asked him to join the board of trustees, as well.
And as Gary said, "When the archbishop asks you to do something, you do it."
When Dina first came to the US from her small and quiet village in Southern Italy, she was overwhelmed by the size, the loudness and how very foreign everything seemed in her new home. The Church was always there for her like a quiet embrace of loving familiarity and peace.
"It was a place I could go. It was something for me- where I want to be," said Dina.
The Church has always been there for the Grubers. And the Grubers are here for the Church. Gary goes to his office high up in the elegant Great American Tower while Dina picks up grandchildren from soccer, weeds her garden and tends to their home.
The men at MTSM are their friends. They host them for dinner and visit the grounds sharing their lives with one another because as Dina says, "You have to do what you believe."