Otto Harry Gruner III only answered his telephone because he hoped someone was calling to invite him to go fishing.
“That’s a direct quote,” said his son, Sam Gruner of Portland, Ore.
One day in 1987, a friend called and invited Mr. Gruner and his wife, Nancy, to travel to Scotland for a week to fish for Atlantic salmon in the River Tweed. They loved it so much that they went back every year for the next two decades.
“It really was beyond special,” said Ms. Gruner, his wife of 59 years.
Mr. Gruner, a longtime Fox Chapel resident, died Dec. 9 at the Longwood at Oakmont retirement community after battling Parkinson’s disease for years. He was 89. He co-founded Follansbee and Gruner, an industrial machinery and equipment company, where he was president until he retired in 1998.
Born in Cedarhurst, N.Y., Mr. Gruner grew up fishing with his father, Ms. Gruner said. During the Great Depression, his family rented out its Long Island home and lived in a boathouse near the Great South Bay. Mr. Gruner would spend his days sailing and fishing, tying up to clam boats for a bowl of clam chowder whenever he got hungry.
“It was like being in heaven,” Ms. Gruner said.
Later in life, Mr. Gruner fished in the waters of Iceland, Canada and, during many summers, at Fishers Island in New York.
“He’d fish for anything, anywhere,” his son said. “He’d take a string and a safety pin and fish in a parking lot in a puddle.”
Mr. Gruner also loved to hunt, play tennis and golf, and watch sports.
He graduated from Phillips Academy Andover in Massachusetts in 1946 and earned a degree in U.S. history from Yale University in 1950. After college, he was a lieutenant in the Navy, working in the engineering department on the USS Coral Sea, an aircraft carrier.
After he left the Navy, he moved to Pittsburgh for a job in sales before co-founding the industrial machinery and equipment company.
Mr. Gruner was a longtime board member for West Penn Hospital and served as chair of the building and grounds committee. He was also a volunteer with the Fox Chapel Fire Department and a member of the Fox Chapel Golf Club, where he served as chairman of the greens committee.
“He just got along with everybody,” Sam Gruner said. “He was a very gracious, charming, kind guy.”
In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Gruner is survived by another son, Harry Gruner of Baltimore; a daughter, Alexandra Gruner of Highland Park; and seven grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. today at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 5801 Hampton St., in Highland Park.
Elizabeth Behrman: Lbehrman@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1590.