School 09

Linda C. Grzyb

November 11, 1948 ~ November 16, 2021 (age 73)


Linda Grzyb, 73, of the Town of Clayton, passed away on November 16, 2021, at Valley VNA
after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s Disease. She was born to Frances (Kuchler) and George Vincent on
November 11, 1948, in Aurora. She grew up in West Chicago, near the Italian relatives of her father, an
architect who designed many of the public buildings and private residences in that city.
She was a teacher for nearly all her life. As a young girl, she was very excited to finally go to school, and
even had a practice “school” in the basement of their home, where she taught imaginary students, all
with names and personalities. But things got real when she entered Illinois State University (ISU) in
1966. After student teaching in Flossmoor (IL) in 1969, she got her bachelor’s degree in Elementary
Education in 1970. Her teaching career began in Biloxi, MS, where her first husband was in the Air
Force. She followed him back to Illinois when he left the service, and got a job in rural Sibley (IL) in
1971, at first teaching kindergarten in the morning and 5 th grade in the afternoon! She next taught
preschool at Temple Shalom on Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive, but soon left and became a remedial
reading teacher at Abingdon (IL) Elementary until 1977. In the meantime, she earned an M.S. in
Education from ISU.
Her first marriage did not last, and she next married an Air Wisconsin mechanic and moved to Appleton.
She got her first job in the area in Manawa, teaching grades 5-8 as a Title 1 Reading and Title 1 Math
teacher on contract from CESA. She had also earned a Reading Specialist degree at ISU while getting her
master’s. In 1981, she became a Chapter 1 Reading Specialist at Freedom Elementary under contract
from CESA 6, and then a Chapter 1 Pre-School and Kindergarten teacher the following year.
Her second marriage had lasted only about a year, but a much longer one was to follow. In 1991, she
posted an ad in the Post Crescent’s Companion Lines section. UW Oshkosh sociology professor and
Christmas radio show host Gerry Grzyb responded, and they first met in the parking lot of Bubolz Nature
Preserve, where he presented her with a red carnation he had grown. They spent the day and the weeks
that followed exploring their many mutual interests. Gerry proposed in her Little Chute home (the first
she ever owned alone) on Valentine’s Day 1992, followed by dinner at Christie’s, and they were married
in the Bubolz Nature Preserve amphitheater on June 5, 1992, only a few hundred feet from where they
first met. Pastor Steve Nelson (father of Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson) officiated. Linda
had helped Steve found Christ the Rock church. Gerry and Linda honeymooned in San Francisco, the first
of their many travel adventure destinations.
In 1994 Freedom dropped its contract with CESA 6, and Linda had to get a new job. She was hired by
Watertown as a reading specialist, but in late September the Appleton Area School District beckoned,
and she bought her way out of the Watertown contract. Her first position was at McKinley Elementary
as a Title 1 Reading Specialist, but after a few years McKinley no longer had enough low-income
students to qualify for Title 1 support, so she switched to a position split between Columbus and Foster.
Not much later she was full time at Foster, where she worked until retirement on June 4, 2010. While at
Foster she won the Pat Bricker Award for Research, presented at the 2001 Wisconsin State Reading
Association convention, for her work with ELL (English Language Learning) students, particularly from
Appleton’s Hmong population. Later, she was very involved in implementing Foster’s Comprehensive
School Reform, and in Foster’s becoming a charter school. Her experiences led to a symposium at the
International Reading Association convention in Chicago in 2006. When the Ann Baum Teacher of the
Year Award was created at Foster, Linda was the first recipient, and her name was engraved just below

the name of her dear friend Ann, who had died in an auto accident only days from retirement. She also
served as the tutoring coordinator for the significant involvement of Secura Insurance personnel in
reading education at Foster. Finally, UW Oshkosh hired her to teach summer courses in reading
education in 2003 and 2006. Her favorite principal over all those years was Judy Baseman at Foster,
now the Superintendent of Appleton’s school system.
Linda often spoke of reading education as helping students to “break the code.” If you realize that all of
the black lines and squiggles on the page mean nothing to you until you can read, you realize just how
important reading education is. Hundreds or maybe thousands can read in large part because of her
highly skilled efforts. She was a master of her craft.
Linda and Gerry were known among friends and coworkers for their travels. Major trips stretched
across the country—a month in New England, North Carolina and the Smokies, Savannah and
Charleston, San Diego and Santa Catalina, San Francisco and the wine county, huge parts of Oregon and
Washington, the western national parks (Glacier, Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Devil’s Tower, and Mt.
Rushmore), and above all, Alaska and Hawaii. There were also Niagara Falls and Toronto, Banff and
Jasper, and Vancouver. When Alzheimer’s made travel much more difficult, their plans to do much of
Europe when Gerry retired in 2014 were dashed. Money meant for Paris and Rome went instead for
memory care.
Linda and Gerry were also significant contributors to the performing arts, including The Singers-
Minnesota Choral Artists, the National Lutheran Choir, the Peninsula Players of Door County, and
Lawrence University’s Jazz Series. They were major sponsors of the Christmas with the Dale Warland
Singers CD, by a group once considered America’s finest chorus. Gerry will also pursue their joint desire
to commission a Christmas carol. Beyond the arts, Linda will have an award for excellence in reading
education established in her name and administered by the Appleton Area School District.
While no in-person service will take place, Gerry will host an online video gathering in the near future, in
which Linda’s friends, relatives and coworkers can share their memories of her. In addition to Gerry,
Linda is survived her sister Carol Voelz of Anoka, MN, and brother George Vincent of West Chicago,
nephews Vince and Nik Voelz, and grandnephew Oscar Voelz. And, of course, all those readers. She
was preceded in death by her father George (when she was only 13), stepfather Art Rolland, and her
mother Fran.
Gerry wishes to express his deepest gratitude to the staff of Valley VNA. When he could no longer care
for Linda at home after more than 5 years from date of diagnosis, he moved her to Valley in June, 2018.
The people who work in memory care there are simply astounding in their efforts to care for patients
presenting many challenges, and doing so with great compassion.

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