John Gruber was born and raised in Seldovia, Alaska. His family history in the community goes back to the late 1800's, with his great-grandparents on his mother's side, Adam Bloch and Eliza Balashoff. His grandmother, Susan B. English, was born in Seldovia in 1904, and his mother, Cecelia "Midge" English, was born there in 1929. His father, Bob Gruber, came to Seldovia in the 1950's as a pilot with Inlet Airways, based out of Homer, Alaska, and met and married Midge. In 1960, Bob Gruber took over the business and renamed it Cook Inlet Airways, and ran it until 1986. John ran a sporting goods store in Seldovia, taking over for his father, which closed in 1990, and in recent years, he has worked in the oil fields of northern Alaska. Seldovia is still his home.