Known as a man of character and generosity, William “Bill” Grewcock died on Dec. 8, 2018, at the age of 93. Grewcock was the former vice chairman of construction and mining at Kiewit Corp., and he and Berniece, his wife of 70 years who survives him, made considerable charitable donations to Hillsdale College.
“He was a giver, and when he gave, his eyes shone with love,” Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn said in a eulogy delivered at Grewcock’s funeral. “Hillsdale is next year 175 years old, and in its long history, Bill and Berniece are among the few most generous.”
The Grewcocks endowed several scholarships, were benefactors to the Grewcock Student Union, supported Hillsdale Academy, and endowed five professorships, among other things.
One of the scholarships the Grewcocks established was awarded to students from Nebraska who had attended a private, Christian high school or had been homeschooled, were academically qualified, and showed a financial need. Since its establishment in January 1994, 143 students have received the scholarship.
“We would get the Nebraska kids, usually 40 of them at a time, together each January when they were home for the holidays to meet with Bill and Berniece,” Arnn said. “Neither of them wanted to be thanked. They wanted to tell the kids how great they are.”
Arnn also spoke to Grewcock’s character, saying he “possessed the moral and intellectual virtues.”
“He was ‘a character’ in the sense that he was distinctive and formidable,” Arnn said. “He was more direct, more confident, readier to think and act than the ordinary. He was ‘a character’ in that larger sense that means a complete man.”
Chief Administrative Officer Rich Péwé only met the Grewcocks once, when they were working on the plans for the student union, but in that time, Péwé said he was impressed with how humble they were.
“They were very straightforward about what they liked and what they did not like,” he said. “They were such down-to-earth believers both in the college and as very faithful Christians.”
Péwé said he was struck by how much Arnn was impressed with Grewcock and that “Arnn seemed always very drawn to him as a man and a person.”
Arnn’s final part of the eulogy touched on that connection to Grewcock.
“My relationship with Bill Grewcock began in business and then reached friendship,” Arnn said. “This is one of the proudest things in my life. I loved him.”
Senior Ellen Friesen has been a Grewcock scholar since she was a freshman and was given the opportunity to speak at the college’s annual “thank-you dinner” in Nebraska.
“I talked a lot about the intellectual culture that coming to school here has helped me to develop and the way it has taught me to think and pursue learning,” Friesen said.
After almost four years, Friesen said she has realized there is still much that she doesn’t know, but Hillsdale has given her a direction.
“There’s so much more, and I can spend the rest of my lifetime pursuing that,’” Friesen said. “I think before coming to Hillsdale, I may have had a vague sense of there being a lot I didn’t know, but there wouldn’t have been a direction to that search which could have animated the rest of my life.”
Without the generosity of the Grewcocks, Friesen may not have been given that direction.
“It’s huge,” Friesen said. “If I hadn’t had the scholarship, I wouldn’t have been able to come here. Everything I owe to Hillsdale I owe to them.”
Sophomore Spencer Rothfuss has had a similar experience with the Grewcocks, saying their scholarship made his education at Hillsdale possible.
“I couldn’t be at Hillsdale without their generosity,” Rothfuss said. “Everything I’ve learned in the class, every friendship I’ve made, every life lesson that I’ve gotten in the last 18 months is possible because of them.”