Gary L. Grunewald

Gary L. Grunewald, KU Professor Emeritus, passed away peacefully on February 20, 2023, at the age of 85.

Gary was born in 1937 in Tekoa, Washington, as the only child of Ruby and Harold Grunewald.

After completing his Ph.D. degree at the University of Wisconsin, Gary joined the University of Kansas in 1966 as an assistant professor in the newly created Department of Medicinal Chemistry.  He was Chairman of the Department of Medicinal Chemistry from 1994 to 2003 and Interim Dean of KU School of Pharmacy from 1993 to 1994.  He received numerous teaching awards, trained nearly 40 Ph.D. students and taught pharmacy students over his 50-year career as a teacher, mentor, and friend to so many. Gary was also active in the medicinal chemistry community external to KU.  He served the American Chemical Society Division of Medicinal Chemistry in various capacities including chairman (1993–1994). He was selected as a Fellow of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (2006), a Fellow of the American Chemical Society (2010), and was an inaugural member of the Division of Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame (2006).   Gary also was a founding board member of the Medicinal and Bioorganic Chemistry Foundation in 1993, a non-profit organization dedicated to education of medicinal chemists in academia and industry.

Gary leaves behind his former wife, Joan, cousins Sheri Riley, Gina Watson Fraser, and James Watson, and many former students and colleagues who have benefited from his teaching and mentoring.

In lieu of a service Gary wishes everyone to remember him in their own way. After cremation his ashes will be inurned at Pioneer Cemetery on KU West Campus.

8 Condolences

  1. Richard Givens on February 24, 2023 at 11:34 am

    Gary Grunewald, a professor in Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Kansas was my close friend, beginning with our graduate chemistry studies at The University of Wisconsin during the early 1960s. We were early students of Professor Howard E. Zimmerman, a physical-organic chemist. Gary and I became close friends along with John Swenton, a student from the University of Kansas, and all three of us graduated from UW – Madison with our PhDs in the later 60s. That friendship continued when I joined the Chemistry Department at KU in 1967. (Gary had informed me of the opening in Chemistry at KU.)

    Gary became my constant friend, advisor, and even “social, cultural, & sports events example” connecting me and my family to the members of Med-Chem and Chemistry in Mallott Hall and to the Lawrence community at large. We both participated each other’s weddings as well as professional travels to chemistry meetings such as the American Chemical Society meetings in the U.S.

    He was a mentor and monitor of our mutual interests in Chemistry. He was admired by all of his students. He listened to their needs and offered valuable advice to many of his Medicinal Chemistry graduate students throughout their careers. He was rightfully awarded top awards in his field for both teaching and research and was a great model for his students as well as me. He will be greatly missed.

  2. Cathy Thrasher on February 26, 2023 at 8:14 am

    I have fond memories of Dr Grunewald. He recognized our voices and did not hesitate to call us out ( always deserved). Dr Grunewald was a kind gentleman. I always enjoyed talking KU sports with him.

  3. Gene Hotchkiss on February 28, 2023 at 2:13 pm

    I was a first year Pharmacy student at KU in the 1966 fall semester. Gary was my faculty advisor. He was an excellent teacher. In 1986 I returned to the KU School of Pharmacy in an administrative position retiring in 2020. Gary became a friend, colleague and mentor during those 35 years. Throughout his career he was consistently recognized as an excellent teacher as was so honored in the recent past by Pharmacy students as recipient of the Rho Chi Honorary Society’s Excellence in Teaching Award. He will be well remembered by a great many KU Pharmacy graduates.

  4. Sheri Riley on March 2, 2023 at 3:04 pm

    So sorry to hear of your passing but, I am sure Aunt Ruby and Uncle Lawrence will be happy to see you again. 🙂
    You will be missed!

  5. Tiffany Strohmeyer on March 4, 2023 at 9:13 pm

    Rest in peace Dr. Grunewald. As one of many Pharmacy students to pass through your Med chemistry classes, I am left with found memories of a sweet and brilliant professor. It was also always a pleasant surprise to run into you at Memorial Stadium on a Jayhawk football Saturday. You did so many good things for science and the KU community. May you now rest easy.

  6. Dr. Weldon Koech on March 14, 2023 at 2:07 pm

    I have fond memories of Dr. Grunewald from my Medicinal Chemistry classes at the University of Kansas School of Pharmacy. What a wonderful teacher he was. He has impacted the entire world through his many students many of whom were international students like myself now living back in my home country Kenya. Rest in Eternal Peace, sir.

  7. Susan Heuchert on June 9, 2023 at 9:27 pm

    Just saw this sad news in the KU alumni magazine. I loved Dr Grunewald’s Med Chen classes. He was a kind brilliant teacher. I was amazed at how he could draw benzene rings and side groups in spite of his poor vision. When he had surgery and could see better, I marveled at how he went on like nothing had happened. A great man who lives on in many memories.

  8. Thomas Högberg on April 26, 2024 at 3:15 am

    The notification about Gary reached me too late. Gary became a good friend of mine during my sabbatical leave at KU 81-83. We shared many fun moments and travels together and our friendship grew over the years. I was always offered to stay in Gary’s house during my visits to KU and he was always a caring host organising meetings with faculty members and friends. I do miss him a lot

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