Grinhaug is TPD Hall of Fame
Wed, 05/16/2018 - 3:33pm admin
Sara Stromseth-Troy TPD Staff
A dedicated employee and avid volunteer, Mark Grinhaug is a familiar face to many in Howard County.
This year, he is recognized with the Cresco Times Plain Dealer’s Hall of Fame Award for his tireless efforts to make the Cresco community a better place by helping those in need.
Characteristically humble, Grinhaug says, “Many people do a lot more than I do. I’ve been blessed.”
As for his own commitment to helping others, Grinhaug said his efforts are a continuation of altruism provided to his mother he witnessed as a child:
“My dad died when I was 12, and I had to move to town. For a year or two we had no vehicle, so my mom walked everywhere and a lot of people gave her rides. So, I look at giving rides to others as payback time,” he said.
Grinhaug was born to Carl and Alvina Grinhaug at the Cresco hospital.
“Unlike my six siblings, I was the only child not born at home,” he said.
He attended elementary and high school in Cresco.
“I left for a short while to work in Rochester briefly and in Waukegan, Illinois for eight or nine months, and got hooked on Chicago Cubs,” he said.
Grinhaug was drafted into the United States Army in 1970, and served in Korea and Vietnam.
After his discharge from the Army, Grinhaug returned to Cresco. He served 36 years in law enforcement, the last decade as Howard County Sheriff. He said he had not anticipated a career in law enforcement, but once he started the work, he discovered he loved it.
“I never intended to go into law enforcement but I loved the job and I still think we live in the best place in the world: What a great place to raise a family and enjoy life,” he said.
Grinhaug and his wife, Kathy, celebrate 25 years of marriage this year. They have seven children and nine grandchildren.
He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Cresco Public Library. Visitors to Regional Health Services of Howard County (RHSHC) often see his face as they walk up to the registration desk, where he volunteers as a greeter. He has served as a driver for the region’s public transportation system, EARL Public Transit.
A member of the American Legion Post 135, where he serves as post commander and the VFW, Grinhaug has also served Howard-Winneshiek Community School District in the areas of custodial work and as a substitute bus driver. He has volunteered for veterans in hospice via the Howard County Hospice at RHSHC.
He serves on the Country Winds Manor Board in Cresco and the Alternative Treatment Associates Board in Postville, has served as Assistant Boy Scout Master, Friends of the Library member, Board member of Helping Services of Northeast Iowa, and member of the Howard County Peace Officers Association.
Community members may see Grinhaug working at and donating food to community dinners, working at and donating for funeral dinners at church, volunteering at Cresco Public Library, donating blood and working at the site, marching in parades with the VFW and American Legion, celebrating Veterans Day at care centers in Howard County by taking each veteran a special gift, participating in funerals for deceased veterans, and transporting veterans to doctor’s appointments out of town.
For Grinhaug, volunteering and working in a variety of positions in Howard County is a way to keep busy and engaged in the community. Now, he finds himself employed once again, this time as a driver for Regional Health Services of Howard County’s Cresco Family Pharmacy.
“I came in for a prescription and my wife (Kathy) happened to be there. She said there was a job opening and I should apply,” Grinhaug said.
While he admits he hadn’t considered a job, he decided to apply to the open position seeking a clerk/delivery person for Cresco Family Pharmacy.
“It’s usually three hours per day in the afternoons,” Grinhaug said of his shift. “I take people’s medications to their homes, I stock shelves, I check in over-the-counter medicines, recycle cardboard and plastic, sort prescriptions by number and do a multitude of tasks.”
Grinhaug said those in need of prescription medication home delivery tend to be elderly customers who cannot get out of their homes, or are reluctant to drive in inclement weather.
“When I begin deliveries, I leave before 4:30 p.m. to get to the post office so I can mail prescriptions,” Grinhaug said. “I primarily deliver in town and also at Country Winds Manor. I enjoy it. I like people and they always thank me for delivering their medications.”
Grinhaug encourages young people to consider volunteering in a way that suits their busy schedules:
“It’s typically retired or semi-retired people who have the time to invest (in volunteering),” he said. “Even if they are younger, if they can find one thing that isn’t a huge time commitment, volunteering is a vital service for a lot of organizations.”
He admits he doesn’t have much time to travel, although he has frequently visited the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation on a church mission trip.
“When we go to Pine Ridge every few years, we take a trip to the Black Hills and see Mount Rushmore,” Grinhaug said. “I would love to see the upper New England states.”
Grinhaug says he also enjoys learning about Civil War history and fishing.
“I’m a Civil War history buff. I love to fish but I don’t have much time for it. I do have my lifetime fishing license,” he said.
Another pastime Grinhaug enjoys is cooking.
“I do like to bake and cook; I like making cheesecake,” he said. “I wanted a bigger kitchen, so we added that and the laundry room to the house.”
Grinhaug counts inline skating among his hobbies, and says he skated the first day of RAGBRAI in 2002.
After a lifetime of serving others, Grinhaug has no plans to slow down.
“I like to stay active. I know a lot of people, but there have been a lot of new faces in the area over the past few years. The Midwest is the best place in the world to live. I enjoy what I do,” Grinhaug said.