Dr. William “Guy” Gronniger, 61, passed away September 18, 2009, among family and friends (all whom he considered family) after a courageous 26-month battle with a GBM brain tumor.
A graduate of De La Salle High School (1966) and UMKC Dental School (1978), Guy established and operated numerous successful dental practices and served as an instructor at the dental school. He also served honorably in the United States Marines from 1969 to 1975 – SemperFi.
Later in life, Guy could be found most Sundays at Harmer’s Restaurant in Edgerton, Mo., with his best friend and mentor, Dr. Butterworth, whom he credited for believing in him and making dental school a reality for him, and so many others.
Guy hardly fit the mold of a career man. He wore pink pants and clogs to work on occasion, shirking the white shirt-and-tie tradition associated with the profession. Berets weren’t off limits either for Guy, and when it did come time to dress up, he opted for a bow tie.
At an early age, Guy was introduced to the sport of weightlifting/body building, which later became a passion that would define him physically, mentally and spiritually. Guy qualified for the 1968 Olympics and held several AAU weightlifting records which stood throughout his lifetime. Guy was featured in the September 1975 issue of the Kansas City Star Magazine.
A child at heart, Guy loved the circus and several times a year could be found backstage during a performance or in the ring as part of an act with the performers whom he had befriended. They too became infected with his outgoing and zany personality.
Motorcycles were another passion of Guy’s. To ensure he always had a riding partner, he owned several bikes so no one ever had an excuse. One of Guys’ greatest thrills was that he was able to ride 1,800 miles of Alaskan wilderness weeks before he was diagnosed.
Guy carried a note with him that read “Was I kind today? Was I generous today? Did I make a difference in someone’s life? And did I thank God today?” He also tucked away a $100 bill as an answer — in case he came across someone who needed it more than him. Most days that was the case. Each year, Guy closed his dental clinic and went on a mission trip to Jamaica to offer free dental care. He also recruited other doctors for the annual trips.
Guy’s tender giving heart could also be witnessed by anyone who stopped by his house and saw the ever-changing number of handicapped dogs he welcomed into his home.
Mark Twain once said that, “Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear, and the blind can see.” It was a language which Guy Gronniger spoke fluently.