Dr. Thomas Foster Grittinger passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday, February 28, 2023 at St. Nicholas Hospital in Sheboygan. He was 89 years old.
Thomas was born October 23, 1933 in Milwaukee, the son of Henry and Martha (Foster) Grittinger. He grew up in Milwaukee, graduating from Riverside High School.
He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, a Master of Science from the University of Wisconsin Madison, and was the first to receive a PhD in Ecology from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, in joint cooperation with the University of Wisconsin Madison.
Tom began and finished his academic career at the University of Wisconsin, Sheboygan Campus where he taught zoology, anatomy and physiology and various ecology courses. He was very proud of his many students who went on to careers in medicine and nursing. He was well published in academic journals nationally and internationally. Many of his research projects were done at the Milwaukee Co. Zoo and Cedarburg. Upon retirement he was honored with the Lorax Award. He also served as naturalist at Kohler Andre State Park for one summer.
He served the country in the National Guard and later by offering draft counseling along with Rev. Russell Morgan.
On June 24, 1967, he was united in marriage with Ann Mulder at Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Milwaukee. The two celebrated 55 years together last summer.
Tom was active in his church, where he served as an elder, was on the property team and enjoyed lighting the chancel candles each Sunday.
Tom was an environmentalist with Aldo Leopold’s book The Sand County Almanac as mandatory reading for his students. He encouraged children’s awareness with The Lorax, for he too spoke for the trees.
He created nature trail information for various locations in Sheboygan and Manitowoc Counties and was proud of Bookworm Gardens, the sight where he and his students, had planted so many trees. He served on the board for Maywood, and was active in the Glacial Lakes Conservancy and other environment and conservation groups.
Painting was a hobby while in academic studies but became a huge part of his life in later years, having exhibits of his watercolor paintings at the UWS Gallery, John Michael Kohler Art Center and Lakeshore Artist Supplies. He also created mobiles which are hung at the UWS Science building and a museum in Sweden.
Tom always enjoyed traveling adventures. Post pandemic trips were cruises in Holland and Belgium and most recently the Caribbean where he found many painting inspirations for the future. His happiest times besides this were lecturing, teaching, walking his dogs, being with family, being out in nature, planting trees, and being out on the water in Lake Michigan.
Thomas is survived by his wife Ann and their children: Eric Grittinger of Sheboygan, Greta (Jacob) Grittinger-Odders of Cedarburg and Amara Wolff of Myrtle Beach; grandchildren: Aiden and Logan Grittinger, Teagan and Anika Odders, Zoe (fiancé Carson) and Kennedy Wolff; Great granddaughter Cayson White; his brother Henry (Karen) Grittinger of Grafton; brothers and sisters-in-law: Margaret and John Schmahl, Craig and Cheryl Mulder, Else’ and Rudy Allen; other many relatives and friends. The family also extends to his foreign exchange children Niclas, Anders, and Linda and their families.
He is preceded in death by his parents, and sister Jane Miszewski.
A Celebration of Thomas’ Life will be held on Thursday, July 13, 2023 at Bookworm Gardens from 3:00pm until 5:00pm. He was laid to rest at a private family service at Arlington Park Cemetery in Milwaukee.
His passport is verified and stamped, for the last time, at his final destination Heaven.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to Bookworm Gardens for a potential Lorax Garden, the Sheboygan Humane Society, African Wildlife Foundation or other environmental Charity.
The family would like to thank Oostburg First Responders and the Sheboygan Sheriff’s office for their quick response and the chaplain, emergency staff and Dr.Thomson at St. Nicholas Hospital, the Wenig Funeral Home and the First Presbyterian Church of Sheboygan for their support.
Wenig Funeral Home – Oostburg (920-564-2771) is assisting the family with arrangements. Please visit www.wenigfh.com for online condolences.