Association of Progressive Rental Organizations | America’s Champion for Rent-to-Own

In Remembrance: Dick Grauel of Mr. Steve’s Rent-to-Own

Richard Lee Grauel, 87, passed away peacefully in his sleep in his Fort Myers, Florida, winter home on March 5, 2022. Dick was the founder and president of Lafayette, Indiana-based Mr. Steve’s Rent-to-Own, and served as APRO Board President from 1988 to 1989.

Dick Grauel began his professional career just after his high-school graduation, as an agent telegrapher for Wabash Railroad. He opened up the first Mr. Steve’s in Lafayette in 1982, and grew the company to 32 stores in Indiana, Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming before selling to Rent-A-Center in 2002.

In addition to running a successful RTO business, Dick served as a deacon for the Presbyterian church, as chair of the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, as President and board member of APRO, as a member of a federal task force, and a member of Masonic Lodge 425 for more than 60 years.

Dick was married three times: to the now-late Patsy Ann Heiny Schmierer in 1955; to the now-late Shirley Mae Balenesiefer in 1979; and to Marjorie Muller in 2007. He is survived by his wife Marjorie; his children Randy (Keeley) Muller, Sandra Muller (companion Trent), Tammy Muller Hutchings (Phillip), Rick Muller (Melissa), Mary Lynn Brooks, Jeffrey Wayne Brooks; and Georgieann Brooks (Ross) Edridge, as well as 21 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild; his sisters Rita Kuester (Bob), Toni Westerhouse (Dick), and Nikki Corso (Ron); his brother Steve Grauel (Sondra); and many other relatives, friends, and colleagues.

Condolences and memories may be left at If you would like to make a memorial contribution in Dick’s honor, please donate to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

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