Gremmels, who put Ben Wheeler back on the map, dies

Published on Tuesday, 28 January 2014 09:40 - Written by

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Staff reports

The man who put the life back into an East Texas town died Sunday.

Brooks Gremmels, 70, was responsible for putting Ben Wheeler in Van Zandt County back on the map by refurbishing rundown buildings and bringing in artists, entertainers and festivals.

He died at 9:10 p.m. at HomePlace Hospice in Tyler from pancreatic cancer complications, according to a statement released by the Gremmels family. He was diagnosed with the disease in April 2012.

When Brooks Gremmels, a retired oilman, decided to retire with his wife Rese, they landed in his hometown of Ben Wheeler. Seeing the state of the town, the couple decided to stay.

“I got down here and was shocked to see what had happened,” he said in a 2009 interview with the Tyler Morning Telegraph. “The community spirit was gone. All I wanted to do was make a difference.”

Gremmels purchased dilapidated homes and rundown businesses, and one by one, renovated them into the artsy town it is today. He is survived by his wife, Rese Gremmels; daughter Amy Hafele; son-in-law John Hafele; and sister, Cary Gremmels.

The family was by his side when he died. The family had not confirmed memorial service arrangements as of Monday afternoon and thanked the community for the outpouring of thoughts and prayers.