If you’ve been on an Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity construction site any time in the last 25 years, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve run into D’Grouch. William “D’Grouch” Laubengayer helped build over 100 Habitat homes with our affiliate—102 to be precise. William passed away in December of 2020, and we would like to take this time to honor the incredible man that he was.
William was always a bit of a legend around the Habitat offices. He’d been with the affiliate much longer than any of our current staff members and many of our volunteers. That coupled with a nickname like D’Grouch might have caused one to be a bit intimidated upon meeting him. However, getting to talk to and work alongside William, it quickly became clear that the self-imposed nickname was a bit of a misnomer. Grouch was a stickler for quality. Double- and triple-checking Construction Manager Christy’s measurements—often to wryly announce that she was off by a 64th of an inch—wasn’t out of the ordinary. If he was stern, it was because he wanted Habitat homes to be the best, pushing us to exceed code and permit requirements. Grouch wanted Habitat homes to be the highest possible quality, and he knew it could be done.
William was also an endless fount of knowledge that he was always happy to share. Countless Habitat volunteers and homeowners know the proper way to use a tool, the most efficient way to use materials, and the importance of not being done until it’s done right because they learned it from him. Grouch donated his personal shop’s tools to Habitat so that we could open D’Grouch Workshop in 2017. For years to come, Habitat volunteers will continue to learn important construction knowledge in a space built to honor him.
In the spring of 2017, William was one of three Iowans that year to be inducted into the Iowa Volunteer Hall of Fame. As a part of the nomination process, we did the math on all the time he has given over the years, and the numbers were staggering. In his 25 years with IVHFH, Grouch averaged 1,000 volunteer hours each year. On paper, or in a day planner, that looks like a lot of time. In reality, that looks like so many walls raised, volunteers taught, and families in safe, quality homes. Not to mention relationships built and smiles and laughs that were the result of a classic Grouch joke.
While this loss is impossibly difficult to bear, we vow to keep William’s spirit alive. We will continue to honor volunteers that go above and beyond with the annual William “D’Grouch” Laubengayer award. We will continue to instill in others the values he has instilled in us. And we will always remember that beneath that gruff exterior was a heart so filled with love, so filled with compassion, who we were blessed to know in this life. To William.
-Article written by Leda Rouse, IVHVH Volunteer Coordinator
Our Mission: Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.
A world where everyone has
a decent place to live.
- Demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ.
- Focus on shelter.
- Advocate for affordable housing.
- Promote dignity and hope.
- Support sustainable and transformative development.
We welcome all who believe that everyone needs a decent, affordable place to live. Habitat for Humanity International and its affiliated organizations do not proselytize.
Habitat will not offer assistance on the expressed or implied condition that people must either adhere to or convert to a particular faith, or listen and respond to messaging designed to induce conversion to a particular faith.