When Adrianna Whittaker looked out to the audience during her musical performances, she always saw a familiar face — her TeamMates mentor of nine years, Beverly Greunke.
"I could always see her in the crowd," Whittaker said. "She was like a family member to me. I cared about her a lot."
Greunke, 73, died Sunday from complications from a stroke she suffered in March.
"She's in a better place. The last nine months have been very hard on her and everyone around her because she lost all the ability to talk and move," her son, Brian, said. "The stroke paralyzed her right side and she lost all speech."
He said his mom traveled a lot before and after his dad, Lyle, died.
"She packed a lot into her years," he said.
Greunke was born July 18, 1946, and attended St. Paul's Lutheran School in Arlington before graduating from Arlington High School in 1964.
She did not stray far from her roots. Before returning to Arlington Public Schools, Greunke ran a home daycare for almost 25 years until 1991.
"Now those children are in their forties," Brian said. "It's making me tear up reading their comments on Facebook."
Lynn Johnson sent her two sons to Greunke's daycare.
"She was like a second mom and grandma," Johnson said. "She raised our kids in more ways than one." Johnson, former superintendent of Arlington Public Schools, worked with Greunke at APS when Greunke served as a paraprofessional and assistant transportation director.
A newly-established grant in her name, The Greunke Education Grant, will help teachers and para-educators acquire funding for classroom and outside classroom activities not covered by school budgets.
Greunke wrote a column for the Arlington Citizen about history, which was one of her skills.
"She was a historian for education and the Arlington community," Johnson said. "She had books and tubs of memorabilia and artifacts. She always had the answers and was a font of knowledge."
Melvin "Red" Misfeldt said he and his wife played couples volleyball with Greunke and her husband.
"She was a friendly and warm person," Misfeldt said. "I don't know if she had an enemy. She always said what she thought."
Greunke received the Outstanding Mrs. Jaycees award in 1981. She was a member of the Arlington Education Foundation Board for 25 years, serving as president of the board for 20 years. She was a member of the Arlington Housing Authority Board where she helped plan and build the Leisure Life Apartments.
She was active in several groups, including Lutheran Mission Women’s League, Low Income Ministry and the Orphan Grain Train.
Even though she retired, she kept in touch with everyone.
"She was a great historian and pillar of the community, longtime assistant at the school, and she's going to be greatly missed," Paul Krause, chairman of Arlington Board of Trustees, said. "One of the neatest things she did later in life was being Facebook friends with nearly all the students who went to Arlington Public Schools and she did a birthday list until her stroke. She wished everyone she had access to on Facebook a happy birthday. I thought that was really cool."
Brian said his mother had more than 2,000 friends on Facebook.
"She'd stay up late at night, sending birthday blessings to those friends," Brian said.
Cheryl Abbott, senior center manager, said Greunke was always happy.
"She always jumped in if there was a task at hand," Abbott said. "When the seniors would go Christmas caroling, she would join that group and she enjoyed going to Nye Legacy to read to the residents."
Abbott said the seniors described Greunke as a good Christian friend.
"She was indispensable as far as a para and as my friend," said Janet Warner, a retired Arlington kindergarten teacher and current school board member. "Bev was always great with the children. She taught some of the primary teachers what we called 'Greunke 101' for storage — have some place for everything even if you don't put it there. Eventually you can put it away."
Funeral services are 10:30 a.m. Friday at St. Paul's Lutheran Church.
She is survived by her children, Marcia Christensen (Dalton), and Brian (Jennifer); grandchildren, Dakota and Wyatt Christensen (Kelsi), Elizabeth Greunke and MaKayla Nemmers (Nathan); great-grandchildren, Russell Christensen, and Avery and Eleanore Nemmers; and sister, Linda Staros (Paul).