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Philanthropist Cora I. Grove dies at age 87

June 07, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

GREENCASTLE, PA. - Cora I. Grove, philanthropist, businesswoman and widow of one of the founders of Grove Manufacturing, died Saturday at her Greencastle home at the age of 87.

"We should each be so lucky to leave a legacy of this kind," Downtown Chambersburg Inc. President Paul Cullinane said Monday. "They earned it in the community and they gave back to the community," he said of Cora Grove and her husband, John L. Grove, who died in 2003.

In December, Cora Grove distributed $3.5 million in gifts to 14 nonprofit organizations, including $200,000 to the Capitol Theatre Center Foundation.

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"I just wish she'd lived longer to enjoy and see the fruits of her generosity," Cullinane said.

One of those projects is the John L. and Cora I. Grove Family Library in Guilford Township. Cora Grove donated $500,000 to the Franklin County Library System in December for the $3 million project to replace the small Ragged Edge Library.

"She was our major benefactor in this case," said Norma Bigham, the fundraising coordinator for the library. Construction on the library began two weeks ago, and Cora Grove left an additional undisclosed amount of money for the library in her will, Bigham said.

Cora Grove also donated $500,000 each to Summit Health toward the construction of an oncology center in the planned Keystone Pavilion and for a courtyard at the planned Fulton County Medical Center. Another $500,000 gift went to Shippensburg University for an auditorium in a new performing arts center.

"Mrs. Grove and Mr. Grove were just very philanthropic people," said Dana Given, executive director of the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce. "I was very honored I was able to work with her over the last year on the (John L. and Cora I.) Grove Community Room."

Given said Grove had asked her not to reveal the amount of the donation for the community room, which is used for meetings by the chamber and nonprofit groups in the Greencastle area.

"She was a kind, a gracious and a lovely person," Given said. "The causes she believed in she endowed quite generously around Franklin County."

John Grove helped create two of the area's largest industries, Grove Manufacturing in Shady Grove, Pa., now Grove Worldwide, which he co-founded in the late 1940s with brother Dwight Grove and Wayne Nicarry; and JLG Industries in McConnellsburg, Pa., in which he was one of the founding partners in 1969.

Grove Worldwide remains one of the largest private employers in Franklin County and JLG Industries is the largest employer in Fulton County.

Dwight Grove died in 2000. Nicarry died May 29.

Cora Grove also had business interests, including the Chuck Wagon and Tropical Treat restaurants in Chambersburg during the 1950s.

"They lived a very humble life," Bigham said of John and Cora Grove. "They started with nothing and built this empire and practically gave it all away."

"Cora and John's generosity will long be remembered," Bigham said. "Their legacy will live on."

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