By Christine Sampson
Doris Gronlund had been to 13 foreign countries in her lifetime, but the village of Sag Harbor, where she owned the clothing store Saga-Lund for 25 years and which she once called “a small town with a big heart,” was her favorite place.
Ms. Gronlund died at home on Friday at the age of 93, with her daughter, Elsa Gronlund Strong, holding her hand.
“She really loved living in Sag Harbor, and loved the people of Sag Harbor,” Ms. Strong said. “She had that ability to connect with people. That’s her strongest legacy.”
Ms. Gronlund was a deacon and elder of the Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church, where she also taught Sunday school for many years. She was a past president of the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce, for which she enjoyed organizing Santa Claus’s annual visits through the village and Bay Street Theater at Christmastime, and was also involved with the League of Women Voters of the Hamptons. In 2009, Ms. Gronlund was the grand marshal of the HarborFest parade.
About four years ago, Ms. Gronlund made the decision to donate her body to science upon her death, Ms. Strong said. Stony Brook University will benefit from her decision.
Doris J. Gronlund was born May 8, 1924, in Brooklyn, to Harriet and Charles Jensen, who were originally from Norway. She graduated from Bay Ridge High School and later attended college at New York University. She had a career as a wholesale buyer of textiles in New York City.
In 1951 she married Gunnar Gronlund, and they moved to Plainview. Mr. Gronlund went to work for Sag Harbor Industries in 1963, and the whole family relocated to Sag Harbor in 1965. The couple divorced in 1979.
One of Ms. Gronlund’s daughters, Linda, died aboard United Airlines flight 93 in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Ms. Strong said it was not just her mother’s faith and her family that helped her get through the difficult times, but also the tight-knit community of Sag Harbor. In a 2009 interview with The Sag Harbor Express, Ms. Gronlund said, “Sag Harbor is a genuine jewel and the comfort and care and love I have been shown here has truly made a difference in how I have been able to heal.”
Her friend Deb McEneaney, who also lost a loved one on 9/11, was one of those people with whom she bonded because of that tragedy.
“She became like my surrogate mother,” Ms. McEneaney said. “My husband loved her, and my kids, too. I will miss her. Her faith and her spirit made her so special. … She was a really, really good friend, a good mother and grandmother who cared passionately about people and life.”
Ms. Gronlund was a gourmet cook who enjoyed entertaining friends and family members at dinner parties. She also enjoyed driving, and taking trips to the post office to socialize.
In addition to Ms. Strong, Ms. Gronlund is survived by two grandsons, Derek Strong of Salem, New Hampshire, and Hayden Strong of San Francisco, California; a sister, Frances Tellefsen of Clarksville, Tennessee, and two nieces, Diana Tellefsen and Lois Jones, also of Clarksville; and many relatives in Norway.
A memorial service for Ms. Gronlund will be held on March 24 at 2 p.m. at the Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church, followed by a party in her honor. Memorial donations may be made to East End Hospice, which Ms. Strong said provided wonderful care to her mother. East End Hospice can be found online at eeh.org or by mail at P.O. Box 1048, Westhampton Beach, NY 11978.
“As a mom, she was really, really encouraging, always telling us how proud she was and setting an example,” Ms. Strong said. “She really, really lived her life. She wasn’t looking for us as her grown daughters to live through us. She lived herself.”