Earle H. Grover, of Brookfield Farm, 1041 Valley Road, Quarryville, Pennsylvania, died peacefully at the Quarryville Presbyterian Retirement Community on Tuesday, January 24, 2023. He was the son of Robert Edward Grover, a licensed electrician of Solomons, Maryland, and of Lenore Heidelbaugh Grover, a high school teacher who taught Latin, math, and English.
A graduate of Ephrata High School, Mr. Grover continued his education at Juniata College, from which he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in vocal and instrumental music. He lost little time in dedicating himself to a life of service as a teacher. In 1952 he joined the faculty of the Mercersburg Academy in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, as director of music education, a position in which his artistic creativity and gifts of organization found expression as leader of the football marching band, the assembly band, and the “Blue and White Melodians,” a dance band with the “big band” sound. Soon he was putting together a 35 piece concert band to perform classical and light classical music at the school’s spring concert. Never pausing for breath, he created a singing group called the “Octet” and prepared the 85 voice Glee Club for that annual celebration of Mercersburg’s musical life.
Mr. Grover’s career at the school was one of remarkable evolution. The first recipient of the Robert R. Black Faculty Summer Study Grant, and already an accomplished pianist, he went on to pursue degrees in Pipe Organ Performance and German Language and Literature at Columbia University, where he was awarded a Master of Arts degree in these two disciplines in 1961. He later did further study in German at the New School for Social Research. In 1964, after more than a decade as Mercersburg’s “Musik Meister,” he elected to become a full-time teacher of German.
As a teacher of German, just as he had been as a teacher of music, the hallmark of his every endeavor was a rare combination of exuberance and excellence. His classes were as exciting as they were demanding, a clear reflection of Earle Grover’s energy, wit, and élan. They were also, for 40 years, an unfailing reflection of the disciplined work ethic he sought to inspire in the lives of his students. For all those years, to the astonishment of his students and the admiration of his colleagues, he managed to return quizzes and tests the very next day!
In due course he was appointed Chairman of the Foreign Language Department. In 1981 he was appointed to the Robert Black Chair, the first recipient of that honor. In 1991, in recognition of his 40 years of dedicated service as a teacher, dormitory dean, advisor to the dance committee, and inspired director of a remarkable music program, he received the Alumni Council Award for Outstanding Service to Mercersburg.
The lasting contribution to his students’ lives was again confirmed in 2010, with the establishment of the Earle H. Grover Endowment Fund, a resource to support German immersion opportunities for Mercersburg students. The Fund was made possible by an initial gift by Dr. J. Laurence Ransom, a member of Mercersburg’s Class of 1965 who wished to thank and honor the brilliant teacher who had done so much to help shape his career. Such a memorial to Mr. Grover is itself an enduring reminder of Henry Adams’s observation that “a teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”
In 1992 Mr. Grover retired to his beloved family manor house on 113 acres, “Brookfield Farm,” the homestead established by his great-grandfather in 1780. Thanks to Earle Grover’s untiring efforts to renovate that house by preserving its architectural integrity, “Brookfield Farm” became a celebrated local landmark and Lancaster County treasure. In keeping with his dedication to both local history and family tradition, Mr. Grover chose to preserve “Brookfield” with the Lancaster Farmland Trust. When he retired to Quarryville after his days at Mercersburg, he praised the bucolic quiet of his ancestral home with typical Earle Grover wit, noting that it promised “substantial security with optimal obscurity.” Indeed, he was often heard to say, “Brookfield is my sanctuary,” one he shared at the end of his teaching life with his devoted friend of 50 years, Charles Eugene Hizette, another accomplished teacher and revered high-school language department chairman, whom Earle first me when they studied at Columbia University together.
A private graveside service will take place at the Middle Octorara Presbyterian Cemetery. In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to the Earle H. Grover Endowment Fund at Mercersburg Academy, Mercersburg, Pennsylvania.
Arrangements by the Reynolds and Shivery Funeral Home, Quarryville, PA.