Retirement gives Grube more time to give back

It's been 11 years since John Grube of Hinsdale retired from his 25-year career with Northern Trust financial services company in Chicago. Since then, he's made volunteering his full-time job.

As chair of the Chicago Zoological Society Board of Trustees and the King-Bruwaert House Board of Directors, Grube's days are as full as ever, and every bit as rewarding as the career he enjoyed, Grube said.

The pandemic has brought new challenges to both organizations. The Brookfield Zoo was forced to close its doors for the first time in its 87-year history. And as King-Bruwaert House took unprecedented steps to protect its residents and staff, volunteers like Grube were busy guiding the organization's next steps.

"We've been very active in strategic planning and improving the physical facilities," Grube said.

The expansion now underway at the 35-acre campus on County Line Road is one of the largest in K-B House's 88-year history and provides what Grube called the missing piece in the facility's full circle of care. The project will provide 44 independent living apartment homes as well as additional skilled nursing rooms for residents in need of the highest level of care.

The apartment homes, known as The Gardens, will include large floor plans and access to amenities such as walking paths, ponds, gardens and a fenced-in dog park. The Gardens will also offer a fitness center with spa, a game room, several dining options, a lounge with bar, a library, a theater, a community garden and a chapel.

"It fills a hole in the continuum of care," Grube said, offering aging residents a place to live on their own while enjoying support such as housekeeping, meals, laundry and even medical care when needed.

Development and finance are Grube's areas of expertise, and he said he welcomes the chance to share his decades of experience with nonprofit organizations in his community.

"You have the opportunity to give back skills that you've gained professionally," he said.

Grube's tenure with the Brookfield Zoo began not as a board member, but as a father who enjoyed taking his children for frequent outings. He joined the board in 1988 and just completed a six-year stint as chair.

As a board member, Grube is working on plans to bring in new exhibits and refresh existing animal habitats while also supporting efforts to make the zoo's resources accessible to people and organizations in need throughout the Chicago area.

A native of Aurora, Grube said he was 16 when he made the decision to attend Hotchkiss, a private boarding school in Connecticut.

"That was an important and transformative experience for me," he said. The experience led him to Stanford University, followed by the Harvard School of Business.

"It was there that I decided I loved finance," said Grube, who after a start in New York City moved his career, and his growing family, back to the Chicago area.

His nonprofit work keeps him busy, but Grube said he and Ann find time to enjoy all of the things they like about Hinsdale and Chicago, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Art Institute.

"We're so blessed with these great resources nearby," he said, and to play a part in making some of those resources better for those who enjoy them.

- story by Sandy Illian Bosch, photo by Jim Slonoff

Author Bio

Sandy Illian Bosch is a contributing writer to The Hinsdalean