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Archive for Friday, July 29, 2005

Founder of Wichita film festival dies

Timothy Gruver, 33, dies suddenly of grand mal seizure at hospital

July 29, 2005

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— Timothy Gruver, an animator and filmmaker who returned to his hometown three years ago to start a film festival, has died after collapsing on the street near his loft. He was 33.

After collapsing Tuesday, a passer-by discovered him, and he was taken to a Wichita hospital where he died after suffering a grand mal seizure. Autopsy results will not be available for two or three weeks.

Randy Phillips, president of the Tallgrass Film Festival board, said the festival will continue without Gruver, though it will be difficult.

"This is going to have a tremendous impact on us because Tim was really the heart and soul of the festival," Phillips said.

After studying film at Brigham Young University, Gruver joined the animation wing of the DreamWorks studio. He later became involved in making short, independent films and co-founded Wild Indians Film Production Co.

Gruver, who had experience coordinating and marketing two California film festivals, decided Wichita needed a film festival after coming home for a visit in 2002. Though attendance failed to meet projections in the festival's first two years, the event managed to attract such celebrities as Oscar-winner Cloris Leachman.

"The festival was just a passion for him. He did it for basically no pay for three years. He assumed that it would eventually pay off in money the way it paid off in satisfaction for him," said his father, Floyd Gruver.

Timothy Gruver is survived by his parents, Floyd and Kaye, and his brothers and sisters, George Robert "Bob" Gruver, Mary Rebecca Perkins, Logan Patrick Gruver and Kayla Marie Gruver, all of Wichita.

The funeral service will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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