Claremore Daily Progress

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December 20, 2012

Downtown Claremore staple ‘Junior’ dies at 86

(Continued)

CLAREMORE —

By 1946, DeGruy graduated from Central High School and began a series of jobs which included helping his aunts and uncles in the restaurant business, to manning the elevators and handling clerk duties in the library at the state capitol. 
During his time at the capital, DeGruy met and crossed paths with at host of celebrities, among them, then-Sen.  John F. Kennedy, Billy Graham and several state governors, including Henry Bellmon who greeted DeGruy by name at the dedication of the J.M. Davis Gun Museum. 
By 1977, all DeGruy’s relatives had passed away and he moved from Oklahoma City to Claremore to “leave the sadness behind” and make a new start for himself.
Upon arrival into Claremore, DeGruy went to work at the old Will Rogers Hotel, where he ran the elevator and helped to set up and clean up for banquets.
He also found several odd jobs about town — clearing parking lots, cleaning up and keeping an eye on area businesses.
He later lived at and helped at Mrs. Carey’s hotel, the second floor room which had just reopened at the Ward Rooms Emporium (at 302 1/2 Will Rogers). 
Although he still walked with a limp and his gait slowed down in his later years, DuGruy, aka “Junior” remained a constant in downtown Claremore, making his rounds, walking to the post office, touring the downtown area, stopping in at city hall and local businesses, meeting friends old and new, always with his trademark upbeat demeanor. 
Although one wouldn’t know it by his appearances, DeGruy did in fact have a U.S. Marine Corps certificate of appreciation, a personal letter from The White House, as well as one from the U.S. Navy Commander L.V. Carnevale (whom DeGruy met), a Rogers County Sheriff’s Department special deputy ID, and more. 
In recent years, DeGruy’s health declined, forcing him to limit and eventually stop the daily walks he loved.
DeGruy passed away Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012. 
Services will be 11 a.m. Friday in the chapel at Musgrove-Merriott-Smith Funeral Service & Crematory in Claremore. Visitation is 8-11 a.m. Friday. He will be laid to rest in Oowala Cemetery.

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