Who was Grace Elizabeth Groner?
No one could have predicted that the birth of twin girls in 1909 in a small town in Lake County, Illinois, would have launched a legacy. One hundred years later, having just outlived her sister, Gladys, Grace Groner established the Grace Elizabeth Groner Foundation, a 501(c)3 which she endowed with over seven million dollars. Grace’s stated intent directed the Foundation to provide financial support for qualified service-oriented Lake Forest College students. This support enables students to pursue service-learning opportunities, enhancing their liberal arts education. Grace’s legacy consists of far more than just money: Grace lived humbly and kept her wealth a secret, leading a modest life dedicated to service. In the spirit of her belief in young people, the Grace Elizabeth Groner Foundation, (GEGF) encourages real-world service-learning opportunities, which invite students to partake in the joys of serving others locally, nationally, and internationally.
Orphaned at age twelve, Grace and Gladys Groner were taken in by George Anderson, a resident of Lake Forest, and a friend of Grace’s parents. The Andersons loved Grace and Gladys as if they were family, and they paid for the girls to attend boarding school and Lake Forest College.
After Grace graduated from Lake Forest College in 1931, she began working as a secretary at Abbott Laboratories, where she remained for more than four decades. It was during her early years at Abbott that Grace purchased three shares of Abbott stock for $180. This purchase would later fund the Grace Elizabeth Groner Foundation.
During the Great Depression, Grace learned to live frugally, and for the rest of her life she continued to live humbly. She lived in a small one-bedroom house. After her car was stolen, Grace walked instead of buying another car. And even during old age, with walker in hand, she would do her yard work. Because of her lifestyle, Grace’s fortune came as a surprise to nearly all who knew her, a surprise that now promises to change the lives of many Lake Forest College students.
Grace’s greatest passion was service. Grace never forgot the gift of education given to her by Mr. Anderson, and she often donated anonymously to those in need. She also volunteered as a secretary at Barat College in Lake Forest and the First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest.
Today, Grace Groner’s legacy lives on through Lake Forest College students who honorably represent Ms. Groner.
What is the Grace Elizabeth Groner Foundation?
The Grace Elizabeth Groner Foundation was created by Miss Grace Groner, a 1931 graduate of Lake Forest College, who died in January 2010 at the age of 100. The Foundation represents Grace’s belief in young people, her desire to enrich their education and future, and her interest in the students of Lake Forest College.
The Foundation offers unique opportunities to qualified Lake Forest College students and are unavailable to students at other colleges. The GEGF’s mission is to preserve Grace Groner’s legacy by encouraging Lake Forest College students to prepare for their careers and to serve their communities. The GEGF assists students in gaining meaningful experiences in the spirit of service to others. The Groner Foundation believes that service to others is the fundamental basis of any community.
Editor of Cabot Wealth Advisory Paul Goodwin wrote an article about the inspiring story of Grace Groner and her astonishing luck, patience and good judgment.
The Lake Forester wrote an article about the four Grace Groner Scholars who are interning at the Gorton Community Center spring semester. They help tweet, update websites, organize think tanks and help out in a myriad of ways in the Children’s Drop-In Center.