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home : business : business November 19, 2018

5/15/2018 1:28:00 PM
Sisters celebrates Grooney retirement
He showed up in his pajamas and bathrobe, with mismatched socks and a scarf. photo provided
+ click to enlarge
He showed up in his pajamas and bathrobe, with mismatched socks and a scarf. photo provided

By Jim Cornelius
News Editor

He showed up in his pajamas and bathrobe, with mismatched socks and a scarf.

No one among those who gathered at Spoons last week to celebrate the official retirement of Bob Grooney was surprised. A wry sense of humor has always characterized the Sisters entrepreneur.

"I got some strange looks," he said. "But what are you gonna do?"

Grooney is 89 years old and has been working since he was a 9-year-old paperboy. For decades he worked in the grocery industry for Ralph's. He and his wife, Claudia, discovered Sisters in the 1970s.

"I couldn't keep from coming here," he said. "It was like a magnet."

He and Claudia opened The Gallimaufry in Sisters in 1979, and in 1984 they started selling liquor there. Grooney was the Oregon Liquor Control Agent for Sisters, and his retirement from that slot as of May 1 is what occasioned the community gathering at Spoons. Grooney's grandson Spud Shaw is now the temporary agent and is eligible to take over the slot permanently.

"It's been a long time since I was out of work," Grooney said. "I waited too long to retire; I should have done it 25 years ago, when my Social Security came due."

Grooney's life in Sisters was at least as much about community service as it was about work; he served the community in many capacities, including being on the school board when Sisters got its own high school - a key element in knitting the community together.

"It made us whole," Grooney said.

Bob served with Sisters Kiwanis and chaired CATS (Community Action Team of Sisters). But he is perhaps best known for his long-time service to the Sisters Area Chamber of Commerce.

That service started early.

"I went to my first Chamber meeting at The Gallery at the bar and came out the incoming president - and I said 'What?'"

Grooney led the Chamber for years - and enlivened many an annual awards banquet as the Master of Ceremonies.

The great affection and appreciation the community holds for Bob Grooney was evident at the retirement party. Interrupted while getting beat by his computer at cards, Grooney reflected:

"It was just great to be part of this town and seeing it grow and aspire to do the right thing."

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