Lillbert James (Jim) Grebe


Lillbert James (Jim) Grebe, 81, died on Friday, February 1, 2024 at his home in Estherville Iowa.

He was born December 1, 1942 at home on Lespeance St & South Broadway, St Louis Missouri to James Lillbert and Irma L. (Bauer) Grebe. Jim was baptized January 17, 1943 at Trinity Lutheran Church Soulard/St Louis, Missouri. He attended Lafayette grade school and graduated from McKinley High School in St Louis Missouri in 1960. He attended Harris Stowe State College in St Louis Missouri.

Jim began working for Aeolian Ludwig Piano in downtown St Louis tuning pianos/ organs and restoring them. Eventfully after a few years he created his own company, Grebe Piano Tuning, restoring and tuning pianos and organs. As he gained more knowledge and experience, He had a shop in Webster Groves, Missouri for his piano and organ repair / refinishing work.

Over the years Jim became involved with the St Louis Theater Organ Society and the Piano Technician Society, serving as President for both groups at various times. Jim interacted with a wide variety of people in his profession as piano tuner—not only his personal customers, churches and schools, Jim also tuned pianos for many well-known celebrities performing in various places in St Louis—Frankie Laine, rock group Queen, Barry Manilow, Steven Edge at Fox Theater and many others. Jim had a passion for the theaters, big and little ones. It was always good news when he heard of one being restored and in use again. He spent many hours at the Fox Theater as a child and young man, becoming friends with Stan Kann, a famous theater organist.

Jim lived in St Louis and Manchester Missouri. In 1999 he moved to Arnold Missouri and built a home there. In 2000 he was united in marriage to Ruth Ann (Hames) Crocker at Trinity Lutheran Church in Soulard/St Louis Missouri.

Jim began to develop a love for woodworking and made many beautiful caster cups for pianos, using many different and exotic woods. He also made special writing pens, clocks, tables, piano benches, bowls ; whatever he could dream up he made it. His friends, family and customers enjoyed each item he created!

Jim’s expertise and commitment to excellence was a hallmark to his work ethic and created a successful business many, many years in St Louis.

When Jim and his wife Ruth Ann moved to Estherville Iowa in 2019, his work ethic came with him and he gained more new friends and customers.

Jim was a quiet, peaceful man-an amazing child of God.

Jim was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his wife, Ruth Ann (Hames) Grebe of Estherville, IA; daughter Tammy (Ray) Witthaus of St Charles, MO, son Tim Beaver of St Louis, MO. sons Jeremy James Grebe, Joshua James (Hillary) Grebe of Brookville, FL; Matthew James Grebe of St Louis MO; granddaughter Alexis Rae Grebe, her fiance, Brayden Scott, great grandson Xavier James Scott of Hannibal MO; great granddaughter Amelia Marie Watson of St Charles, MO; stepdaughter Marlessa Amy Jodene Crocker of Estherville, IA, step granddaughter Hannah Leigh Nitchals of Estherville IA, stepson Jeffery Alan (Toni) Crocker of Franklin, TN, step granddaughter Gabrielle Lauren Crocker of Nashville, TN and step grandson Garrison Andrew Dalton Crocker of Omaha, NE; stepson Raymond (Sarah) Witthaus, step great grandsons Dean and Zachary Witthaus of Lincoln, CA; cousins Rosita (Murie) Biggerstaff of St Peters, MO, Gregory H (Julie) Bauer in CO, Richard J Bauer St Louis, MO; friends, Jane Maule, Paul Ringwald, and many, many wonderful friends. He will be missed greatly.

A memorial service will be held at Estherville UMC February 8, 2024 at 1:30 pm.

Funeral service and burial will be at a later date in St Louis, MO.