Dean Thomas Grua

Service Date: December 17, 2020
Visitation Info: Linnemann Funeral Homes Burlington
Interment Info: Linnemann Funeral Home Crematory
Service Info: Linnemann Funeral Homes Burlington
Service Info

Dean Thomas Grua

Dean was born at Scott Air Force Base, which is near Belleville and O’Fallon IL.  He was born into and grew up into an Air Force family.  His Dad was in charge of the Officer Clubs for the Air Force.  They traveled to various locations within the US (Cheyenne, WI; Tampa, FL; near Dallas/Ft. Worth; and some other Air Force Bases, and in Germany and England.  Being on Air Force bases, Dean saw, heard and was around the planes and jets all the time while growing up.  After high school graduation, he enlisted  into the Air Force, which he spent almost 4 years.  Since he couldn’t fly for the Air Force, because of wearing glasses, he still wanted to be around the planes/jets, so he became aFuel Specialist. He was based at Whiteman, MO; Incirlik Turkey (during the Vietnam war fueling planes/jets) and at Ellsworth, SD.  It was there in Turkey, that he received a Commendation Medal for Meritorious Service for the Fuels Laboratory and became Sergeant Dean Thomas Grua for the rest of his Air Force career.


After he got out of the Air Force, he wanted to learn how to fly, so he went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  He flew for the University and afterward, flew for the local FBO (Flightstar) on the airport.  He started at Flightstar in 1980 doing flight instructing part time and then as a full time flight instructor and flying charter flights  He was made the Chief Flight Instructor by the owners.  Dean designed and wrote the original computer program to help Univ. of IL flight students complete their Commercial and Instrument ratings at Flightstar.


In the summer of 1984, Dean moved from Champaign, IL to Indianapolis, IN to fly charters for Manor Health Care.  Thirteen months later, Dean made another move to Northern KY and started flying for Comair as a First Officer in October 1986.  He started in the Embraer Bandierante.  Then he started flying the Saab SF-340 and was a Saab Captain until 1996 when he trained as a Captain of a Canadair CRJ200 (50 seats).  Sometime after April 2004, he flew the larger CRJ’s the 700 and the 900 till Comair closed September 29, 2012.

Dean and Marilyn met on a blind date in the summer of 1996.The fireworks between them were immediate. Knowing they were meant to be together, they were married at a gulf side resort in Siesta Key Florida. Upon their return, they built a home together in Hebron and spent the 24 years they had together in their home. Dean had proposed to Marilyn on the hillside that was to become their home. Dean was always fun with a quick mind and a wonderful sense of humor. He rarely lost his patience with anybody!

Dean and Marilyn were soul mates, the best years of their lives with each other (the best thing that ever happened to each of them), and a love at first sight when they met.  Marilyn has said “We always loved being together.  We always had so much fun, so much love and it was always wonderful.  24 years was too short for us.)  When Dean and went to FL, he said all he wanted to do was park himself on the beach and relax.  In all the years they went to FL, they did a few local day side trips and that was all.  Marilyn and Dean just wanted to relax and take it easy.  We both loved the beach, the gulf water and the shorebirds.

Dean shared Marilyn’s love of gardening, birds and butterflies. He was always quick to help and they were a great team.

Dean’s Memorial Service can be viewed live by going to You Tube and viewing the Linnemann Funerals Live channel.  The live stream will start at approximately 5:50 pm on Thursday, December 17, 2020

5:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Linnemann Funeral Homes Burlington

1940 Burlington Pike
6:00 pm

Linnemann Funeral Homes Burlington

1940 Burlington Pike

Linnemann Funeral Home Crematory

Address: 30 Commonwealth Avenue Erlanger, KY - Kentucky 41018
12:00 am - 12:00 am

Dean Thomas Grua


From an old Air Force friend…

I knew Dean while he was stationed at Ellsworth AFB in South Dakota. Unfortunately I just found out about his passing today (2/24/22). I posted the following comments on Facebook today. Dean will always hold a special place in my heart

My name is Bruce Judkins. I can be reached at [email protected] if you have Air Force memories to share.

Most of you know that I have an overactive nostalgia gene and am basically a softie – until push comes to shove (still haven’t mastered that “turn the other cheek” thing yet). Sometimes I’m caught off guard by whatever triggers it but this evening was one of those times.

The have been many times in the past 46 years that I have recalled Sgt. Dean Grua. He was probably my first supervisor, or at least crew leader, after reporting to my first duty assignment at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota. I’m positive that I had searched the internet in the past to see if I could find him but had no success. I can’t recall specifically what brought him to remembrance in the past couple of days but I took another swing at finding him this evening.

This time I must have included better keywords because I found him. I suppose the other reason I was successful is because those keywords led me to his obituary. He’s not the first person who I “found” too late. The older I get the better the chance.

Anyway, it probably shouldn’t have affected me at all but it made me quite sad. Dean was kind of a big brother kind of guy to me. I was a dumb young airman and he had over three years of real service under his belt. He didn’t go to Vietnam but did support the war effort from Incirlik, Turkey.

There are three things I will never forget about Dean.

First was his love for music. He, and many others who returned from overseas, accumulated world class sound systems. Dean’s included a reel-to-reel tape play. Those reels held hours of music! He was the first guy to turn me onto The Marshall Tucker Band. Kind of my entry into what I’d call southern rock. 24 Hours At A Time, Fire On The Mountain and Heard It In A Love Song quickly became favorites.

Second, he had built a Chevy Vega with a 350 motor in it. He didn’t have it in South Dakota. It was back in Illinois waiting for him. SD was a brief stop for him. He was only there for his final six months or so after returning from Turkey.

Finally, and I’m not sure how or why this came about because it has always struck me as so childish, is that he did this thing of pronouncing words “backwards”. In other words, instead of calling him Dean Grua, I would call him Nead Aurg. I was Ecurb Snikduj. I always liked the way Snikduj sounded. We actually got to where we would be speaking whole sentences “backwards”. Foolish I know but still makes me smile.

Here’s my real reason for writing this. Don’t keep waiting to reach out to that person from way back who brought smiles to your heart. They’re easier to find when there is an obituary attached to their name but it’s too late then. Thank you Father for bringing Dean into my life. I pray that he responded to Jesus’ calling in his life so that I might see him again one day – for all eternity.

The flight west is one every pilot will make.

Dean was a part of Flightstar in our early days. We were broke and working seven days a week but we had so much fun. Things seemed so much simpler then. We were all young, in our twenties, and unlike now, the only thing that seemed important to us was flying airplanes. We almost lived at the airport in those days and all of our friends were involved in aviation in some way. Dean and I had the same sense of humor. I remember his quick wit and the many crazy things that we thought were so funny. I am proud that Dean went on to a long, productive and fulfilling career as a pilot. I know he loved to fly. I am so sorry to hear of his passing. Another good man and good friend gone too soon. Please accept condolences from the entire Flightstar family. We have lost one of our own and he will be missed.

24 Wonderful Years

Dean, I’m sorry I never got to meet you in this life, but the way Marilyn & your family & friends describe you, we could all have been best friends.
And what an amazing career you had. You’re flying high now.
I’m so glad you & Marilyn were able to have those 24 fun-filled years to love each other, and make so many wonderful memories she will treasure
until you meet again.
Marilyn, I hope each day the pain of separation will lessen, and be replaced with a smile as you remember Dean,
his smile, his touch, his good humor, and all the intimate moments you shared as soul mates.
You have many beautiful plants to remind you of Dean every day, and the gardens you created together.
God’s blessings on you.
Cal McGaugh

A good man

Dean was a good man in a world where it seems like it’s harder and harder to find someone who is good.

He was helpful and kind. The world is a better place for Dean having been in it.

Sorry for your loss, Marilyn. May God comfort you.

Greg Flannery

So sorry that you’ve left the range

Much appreciate your kindness over the years to me, Shirley. You’ll live in the hearts of your friends at RFC’s TWH as long as we are around and you enriched many more of us than you realize. I pray for Marilyn’s strength; she honors you greatly and is all that you could ask for in a wife & companion, but you knew that going in, I suspect. Happy Trails; you’re in Gods hands now and the pain is no longer. How to say anything? You’ll be missed, that’s for sure. You’ve left some wonderful footprints behind, Pard. We can’t walk in them, but we can see where ya went.


Saying Goodbye to Dean Grua

Dean Grua was our neighbor and friend. He loved his wife Marilyn very much. That love is evident in all of the beautiful flowers and bird feeders in their yard. He always supported Marilyn’s love of gardening, bird watching and butterflies. You will be missed.

Your backyard Friends,
NELDA and Mike Purdon

Sorry for your loss

Dean and I were friends and partners in our chosen sport for years. He was a good person, intelligent, and had a quick wit. For example, he would quote favorite lines from movies that applied to things taking place during his daily activities. He was funnier than the originals. He was a world class competitor in our sport, proven repeatedly at competition after competition, including at the international level. He had an incredible knowledge base and the self developed skill set to apply it. I was fortunate to have him as a mentor, and as a friend. R.I.P.
John Leonhart

One of my favorites!

Dean (Capt. Grua) was one of my favorites to fly with at Comair. Friendly, funny, kind and a true professional aviator. It’s been well over 20 years since flying with him but I remember him clearly and often. A great man and I’m lucky to have come across and share his path.


So sorry to hear this news. Dean was such a nice man and great CA. He was fun to fly with & always professional. His accomplishments were many. Prayers for his family and friends. RIP. Go fly with the angels.

Flying with Dean!

I had the pleasure of flying with Dean as his first officer from 2000-2004 at Comair. We would be flying along and Dean would go “Dam” and I’d ask what’s the problem and he’d point to a lake look at that dam isn’t it pretty. Or he’d say awe “my old stomping grounds “ and I’d ask if he grew up here? “No I worked at a winery”! He and I exchanged continual funny banter. He was always fun to fly with and be around. He will be missed.

Prayers and Positives

As a Comair flight attendant I was blessed time and again to fly with Captain Dean.
Never a dull moment. Always fun while remaining the utmost professional.
He will needless to say be missed.
Tracey Jones

Great Guy !!

RIP and fly high!

Mentor and Friend

To provide a tribute to Dean is a very easy. Providing it in this limited space is impossible. Dean was a guy that you wish you could be more like. He was patient, kind, knowledgeable, and had a great sense of humor. We always had fun, whether flying together or enjoying a day at the range. In reading his memorial I was reminded of his many contributions to others, and am happy to recall how much he mentored me while we enjoyed our mutual hobbies and profession. While I am deeply saddened by his untimely passing, I consider myself very fortunate to have spent a lot of time with Dean. He was a great friend to have.