MONTEREY PARK — Kenneth J. Gribble, a former councilman, mayor and president of the Lions Club, died Sunday morning of cancer in San Gabriel Community Hospital. He was 81.
Gribble, who served on the council from 1966-74, was a longtime resident and businessman in Monterey Park. His family moved to the city from Nebraska in 1909 and set up the city's first general store, Gribble's Food and Fuel.
Later, Gribble opened a gas station and car repair shop at the corner of Garvey and Chandler avenues, where he stayed for 36 years. He also served as president of the Chamber of Commerce.
Friends and family members said Gribble remained loyal to the city, whether through his work as a councilman or in volunteer work with charity organizations.
"He was a dedicated individual who was very honest, straightforward, sometimes brusque, but he always had his eye on whatever he wanted," said Howard Fry, 81, a former councilman and a close friend of the Gribble family.
Fry said Gribble led a successful battle during the 1950s to keep Monterey Park out of the Metropolitan Water District, and as a result, the city today belongs to the four-city San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District, with Alhambra, Azusa and Sierra Madre.
As president of the Lions Club, Gribble in 1951 helped start "White Cane Days"--an annual fund-raising event in which volunteers sell miniature white canes to benefit foundations for the blind and other charities. The event was so successful, said Gribble's wife, Eva, that other Lions chapters patterned their own fund-raisers after it.
He also oversaw construction of Lions Manor, a 126-unit low-income apartment complex for senior citizens. Fry said Gribble negotiated with state and federal officials for the $4 million needed to build the project.
Gribble is survived by his wife, Eva, 69; two sons, John, 43, of Long Beach, and Bill, 41, of San Pedro; a daughter, Ruth Krug, 34, of Rosemead; a brother, Bernard, 83, of Laguna Hills, and four grandchildren.
Gribble requested that no memorial service be held.