University City

Retired general finds new role as author

Spending half the year living in the University City area and the other half in North Palm Beach, Fla., 71-year-old Jack Grubbs may appear to be living a laid-back, leisurely life.

But while shooting hoops as often as possible is a priority, this West Point graduate has an impressive background that includes receiving numerous degrees, serving on faculty at a major university, and most recently, penning his second novel.

A retired brigadier general, Grubbs did two combat tours in Vietnam and provided 35 years of active military service for the Army.

Also a lover of learning, Grubbs earned a Bachelor of Science degree from West Point in 1964, a Master of Science in engineering from Princeton University in 1972, and a Ph.D. from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1986.

After retiring from the Army, Grubbs spent eight years in New Orleans with the Tulane University of Engineering serving on their faculty, most recently as associate dean of engineering.

While others may have wanted to retire after similar years, Grubbs was ready for a new chapter in his life.

The cumulative knowledge that he gained from both his military and engineering backgrounds and experiences created the perfect platform for him to pen two novels.

His first book, the first of a trilogy, "Bad Intentions," was published in 2007 by Zone Press in Denton, Texas, and sold about 1,000 copies.

Capitalizing on the success of the story, Grubbs' second in the Seiler Murder Mystery series, "The Dryline," was recently released by Brown Books Publishing Group, a self-publishing group that helped with the printing, marketing and e-book format.

In this second novel, main character Tom Seiler finds himself back in Texas where he aims to assist his brother Don in the final design of an oil-extraction system. A murder of one of Don's workers positions the brothers against a group of ruthless oilmen who are keen on their design, and who will stop at nothing to steal it.

Born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, Grubbs chose to base the book in the area he grew up knowing best.

While his life experiences played an integral part in his writing, he admits that his military background didn't prove to be much inspiration in his work.

His engineering background, on the other hand, was instrumental.

"I love solving problems," said Grubbs. "I also believe it is quite a challenge to explain engineering concepts in a manner that can be understood - and enjoyed - by those with no engineering background. Feedback from 'Bad Intentions' has led me to believe that I have succeeded."

Family comes first for Grubbs, who's been married to his wife, Judy, for almost 48 years.

"I'm hopelessly in love with her," he said.

Their three daughters, six granddaughters and one grandson are dear to them both, the youngest named Jack. In 2006, Hurricane Katrina prompted the family to move to Charlotte, where he started Simon-Meyer LLC, a construction consulting firm.

After suffering a traumatic brain injury in 2008, he was forced to retire. Thus opened a new door for Grubbs: writing mystery novels.

While learning every day is an endeavor for Grubbs, his belief is to work hard and play hard. Though he's just 5 feet 8, he's a basketball buff, and is often found shooting hoops or coaching. He works out three times a week and said he could pop out 50 pushups.

"I plan to do what I please for however long I can march to my personal drummer," he said.

For now, he's enjoying the reviews of his latest novel and is already hard at work on the third installment in the Seiler Murder Mystery series, which is due out at the end of 2012.