Ruby Edna Grilley (Ott) age 94, from Elroy, Wisconsin completed her circle of life at Heritage Manor Nursing Home.  She was born on the Ott family farm on February 17th, 1923 and left this earth on November 27th, 2017.


Ruby lived a long and full life.  Her hard work ethic was passed down through generations of farming genes.  One of 9 children, she spent her youth not only helping milk her father’s herd, but after her grandfather died, spent several years with her brother on his farm helping her grandmother with farming chores.  Her small hands and gentle administrations made her a favorite among the more stubborn of milking cows and her willingness to always lend a hand made her a pillar of her family while she was growing up.


Ruby was always interested in learning.  She attended the Five Corners Country School starting at age 4 through 14.  Although Ruby was only able to attend school through 8th grade (and by age 10, would often drive her younger siblings to school in the family Model T), she was a superb mathematician and was asked to return to the school to be a teacher’s assistant after she graduated.  She carried her thirst for knowledge all the way through her life and often could be found reading the newspaper and watching the news on TV to keep updated on current events.


On November 7th, 1942, while visiting her beau at his base in Camp Crowder (Joplin, Missouri), Ruby married Kenneth (Ken) Grilley, whom she met on her family farm.  Yes, Ruby married the milk man. They remained married for 54 years, until Ken’s death in 1999.  Together, they had three boys:  Larry, Ronald “Ronnie” and James “Jim”.


Never one to sit still, Ruby took on many jobs (often unpaid) while her husband was deployed.  Many families in Elroy counted on her to help with elderly family members or to assist in household duties.  She started working for the Ray O Vac battery company as a factory worker when her youngest son was 5.  She took pride in the fact that she did a “man’s” job.  Truth be told, not even the loss of part of her finger made her want to quit.  After 40 years of service, she retired at age 65, but not before initiating her other full time job:  head cook & treasurer/scheduler of the Elroy American Legion.  Her cooking became known throughout the area and her “world famous” potato salad was even the subject of a local newspaper article.  She spent so much time at the hall that she had a permanently reserved parking space there!  Her devotion to the hall was also commemorated by a plaque naming the kitchen after her.

When not working, Ruby was an avid gardener, baker and selfless community asset.  She frequently gave rides to church for parishioners in need (up until she stopped driving at age 91) and was always doing what she could for her neighbors, family and wide network of friends.  As much as Ruby supported the community, the community, in return, gave back to her.  One of her favorite stories was when the firemen showed up at her house after she was unable to dig up vegetables and proceeded not only to harvest her garden for her, but also scrubbed the beets so she could pickle them (of course, they were paid back by some of the best pickled beets she had). Although small of stature, Ruby was quick to laugh and appreciated a good joke. She was loved by many and beloved by all – a true believer in loving inclusively.


Ruby is survived by her three sons, Larry (Judith), Ronald (Linda), James (Rebecca), 10 grandchildren, and 14 great- grandchildren, 2 great-great grandchildren, siblings Robert (Ethyl), Lloyd “Mick” (Lavonne), Ronald (Janet), Janice (Dean-deceased) Maus, Delores (Elmer-deceased) Wells and Gordon. She is further survived by sisters-in-law Helen (Warren-deceased) Walters and Frieda (Keith-deceased) Grilley.   Also surviving her are numerous nieces and nephews, as well as special “family” member Dave “Hoggie” Houzner.



Ruby was preceded in death by her parents Fred and Edna Ott, husband, Kenneth “Abe” Grilley, siblings Adolf “Bud” (Inez) and Norma (Edward) Wells, as well as her in-laws Omer and Thema (Hurlbutt) Grilley, brothers-in-law Keith Grilley and Warren Walters.


The family would like to extend our sincere appreciation and thanks to the compassionate care we received during Ruby’s final days at Heritage Manor Nursing Home and to the outpouring of support from many community and church members.


A visitation is planned for Friday, December 1, 2017 at Picha Funeral Home from 4 to 8 p.m.  A service at Zion Lutheran Church will occur on Saturday, December 2, 2017 at 11:00 a.m., with visitation beginning at 10:00 AM. For online information go to, in lieu of flowers or gifts, memorials may be made to the Zion Lutheran Church or to the American Legion Auxiliary.