Rudolph M. Grasha Sr. was a mild-mannered man who was patient, kind and understanding, said Katherine Grasha, his wife of 67 years.
Grasha, 90, of Lowell, formerly of Hammond's Hessville section and East Chicago, learned to play the tamburitza, a Croatian instrument, at 9 years old.
Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Grasha played with several Croatian bands when he was older.
The couple met at a wedding July 6, 1946, in Indiana and married two months later. They had three sons. Rudolph M. Grasha Sr. played the accordion, and Jim Grasha the tamburitza.
“He taught them so much about music,” Katherine Grasha said. “My house was always full of music.”
Their youngest son Tom loved to hunt deer, fish and tinker on cars with his father.
“We had cleanest, shiniest, most beautiful cars all year long,” Katherine Grasha said. “He loved his three wonderful sons and would say, ‘I have my musicians, my hunter and my fisherman.’ He was so proud of his sons.”
Grasha loved all his grandchildren, but great-granddaughter Aubrey was his shadow, Katherine Grasha said.
“They would have tea and cookies together,” she said. “He was very patient with the children.”
A World War II Army veteran, Grasha served under Gen. George Patton in Germany in the artillery division. Patriotic, Grasha belonged to American Legion Posts 369 of East Chicago, 232 of Hessville and 101 of Lowell.
“He said, ‘I froze. I was hungry, but I did something for our country,’” Katherine Grasha said.
After 30 years, Grasha retired from Union Carbide Linde Air, where he filled hospital oxygen tanks. He loved football, especially the Chicago Bears.
A devout Catholic, Grasha attended Mass every Sunday.
“He said, 'We have to go to church because God loves us,” she said. “He said that is very important and the boys have to understand that religion is important to us.”
Grasha said the rosary daily on one made from flowers from when his father died.