Born in 1896 in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Gromme went to work at the age of 21 as a taxidermist at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. After World War I, Gromme worked at the Milwaukee County (now Public) Museum as a taxidermist, collector, photographer, movie editor, background painter, botanist, geologist, sculptor, and finally curator of birds and mammals.
He retired in 1965 to devote full time to painting arty, prints and posters. He first gained acclaim in 1945 when he won the Federal Duck Stamp competition. In 1963 Gromme completed to world acclaim a volume of scientific paintings called, Birds of Wisconsin.
He was frequently referred to as the “Dean of American Wildlife Artists,” during his lifetime. Owen Gromme died on October 29, 1991, at the age of 95. Gromme’s reputation as a painter of wildlife art, prints and posters enabled him to bring attention and action to important conservation issues such as legislation to protect birds, the protection of the Horicon Marsh, and the formation of the International Crane Foundation. Gromme served as president of the Wetlands for Wildlife organization and was among the first to crusade against the use of chemicals.