"Daddy Ralph", 84, of Orlando, Florida joined his parents, Ralph and Betty Groover, brother Kenny Groover, and sister Betty Gene Woods in peace with the Lord he loved so much on December 14, 2009.
Although born and raise din very humble beginnings, he considered his most important jobs in life to be a good Christian, husband, father, and patriot.
Ralph was born in Hinesville, Georgia on February 20, 1925 to the late Ralph and Betty Groover. He was preceded in death by his brother Kenny Groover and sister Betty Gene Woods. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Joanne Hodges Groover, four children; Sherrie Gibney-Sherman (Ken Sherman), Cindy Groover (Charley Gay), Ralph Groover III (Lynne Groover) and Lea Anne Groover; grandchildren Kellen Gibney, Alexandra Gibney, Mollie Sherman, Armando Trey Hernandez (Laura), Hailey Groover, MacKenzie "Ralph" Groover IV, Richard Day, and Christopher Kyle "CK" Day; Great grandson Kellin Waters; Brother Darrell Groover (Linda), sisters Mavis Tootle, Virginia DeLoach (Mondale) and Pat Smiley (Dale). He was Uncle and Great Uncle to many and a friend to all. He never met a stranger.
Ralph Hillis Groover, better known to all as Daddy Ralph - was a proud and amazing man, with a lifetime of accomplishments. Starting from a rural background in Gum Branch, Georgia, near Hinesville, he became a full colonel in the United States Army and had a military career that spanned three decades and several wars. He also served in military intelligence and learned to speak Russian and German. As they say, old soldiers never really leave the military, but he embarked on other careers, including many years in Orlando real estate starting in the mid 1970's. He continued to work in varying areas of interest until he was around 75-years-old.
He is survived by his wife Jo - our Mama Jo - to whom he was married - and completely devoted - for nearly 60 years. Ralph and Joe could tell you many tales about the 35 moves they made during his military career and the adventures four head head strong children can bring to a family. A constant throughout was his love of church, family, and his country. There was never a question where he stood on any of these matters.
Two weeks ago, we got to spend what turned out to be our last time, our last Thanksgiving, with Daddy Ralph. He had just undergone some risky surgery and was struggling to recover. Following the surgery everyone pitched in to help Daddy Ralph get back on his feet and out of the hospital door - his ultimate goal. We had to make sure he was all right and didn't try to pull out his tubes and escape - he had a mind of his own! He wasn't ready to leave the hospital by Thanksgiving Day, but the hospital staff kindly allowed our extended family to take over part of the hospital dining area that evening and bring in our food and music for a very unusual, but memorable celebration. An enduring memory of Daddy Ralph will be of him sitting proudly - in his pajamas - at the head of the hospital dining area table, singing his favorite them song, "Lord, It's Hard to Be Humble." Daddy Ralph was a man of great faith, a fundamentalist christian who made everyone feel completely welcome and at home.
Ralph's memorial service will be held at First Baptist church of Orlando on John Young Parkway on Saturday, December 19th at 11:00 am with viewing at 10:00 am. A reception will be held in Faith Hall immediately following the service. A military burial service will be held on a later date at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
Memorials in Ralph's honor may be made to:
First Orlando Foundation
c/o First Baptist Church of Orlando
3000 John Young Parkway
Orlando, FL 32805