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Man dedicates life to helping poor

November 11, 1998

Roy GroveBy TERRY TALBERT / Staff Writer




Roy Grove, 77, was born and raised in a Mennonite home in Maugansville where giving was a part of living.

"No tramp came to the door that my mother wouldn't feed him," he said.

Grove has continued the family tradition. He helps feed the hungry, clothe the poor and build schools for the children in this country and in other nations. He and his wife Ruby, sons Gary and Dick and grandson Doug, work to improve the lot of strangers.

Grove recently was named one of Washington County's Most Wonderful Citizens. He was nominated for the award by Andrew E. Auxt, who described Grove as "a one-man disaster relief person."

The retired owner of Solliday Oil Co. in Hagerstown most recently took donated items to flood victims in West Virginia, tornado victims in Frostburg, Md., and hurricane victims in Florida. He has traveled to St. Louis and Mexico for similar reasons.

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He advertises for donations from the community, and sometimes buys goods at auction. Then he takes them where they're needed.

Grove delivers, sometimes from behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer. "Sure, sometimes I drive 'em," Grove said. "But sometimes I just ride along. And sometimes it's a bus. It all depends."

For years, Grove has delivered building materials to mercy ships in Florida for use in overseas relief efforts. He spent a month in Senegal, Africa, on a mission building project, and two weeks in Brazil doing similar work.

A year ago, Grove and grandson Doug went to Guatemala to help build a high school for children who literally live in a dump.

"Thousands of people are born, live and die there," he said.

Grove has helped missionaries working at dumps in El Paso and in Mexico. He remembers cooking hot dogs and pouring drinks for the people who came to the tables the missionaries set up.

"It was the best meal they had had in heaven knows how long," he said.

Grove and his wife Ruby helped deliver milk to children at an orphanage in Mexico. "They wanted to put on a program for us. There were about 50 kids there. They sang to us in Spanish."

Grove feels as uncomfortable with praise as he does with thanks.

"Make sure you say it's not me doing these things," he said. "God does it. When he does it, it takes the load off you, and it's done right."

Grove said he was about 50 years old when he and his wife became involved in mission work

"I get paid in advance by the Lord," Grove said of his work.

Grove is on the board of New Life for Girls in Hagerstown and the Child Evangelism Fellowship of Washington County. He is a former board member of Anita Lynn Children's Home and was chairman of the board of Hagerstown Union Rescue Mission for 20 years. He helped found Cedar Ridge Children's Home and Heritage Academy.

When he was helping build institutions here, money came from unexpected places. So did building materials, and labor, land and the people needed to build dreams into reality.

"Wonderful things come out of the clear blue. I'm not a highly educated person. I have nothing to brag on. I'm just working for the Lord, and the Lord works things out in ways we can't understand," he said.

The There's Room in the Inn Boys' Ranch in Warfordsburg, Pa. is the latest dream Grove has helped come true.

Anyone with nonperishable items to donate to one of Grove's causes may drop them off at Solliday Oil Co. at 325 Wilson Blvd. in Hagerstown between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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