Retirement is not for resting
By BY LYDIA GRIMES Feature Reporter
George Grover is not your typical retiree. He may have retired from his career of fire fighting, but he has taken on a whole new goal in life. He has devoted himself to contributing to the community since his retirement from the Pensacola Fire Department about 17 years ago. Habitat for Humanity has been a big part of what he does, but it is by no means the only thing.
Grover was born in Massachusetts, the son of a Merchant Marine. The family moved to Pensacola during World War II. Because of its deep water, Pensacola was where all the ships came to load and unload their cargo. They stayed there after the war and raised the children, Grover and his sister.
Grover was the typical high school boy and played all sorts of sports all during school until he hurt his knee and was unable to play anymore. He graduated from Pensacola High School in 1952.
After graduation, he attended Marion Military Institute to take prep courses for the Military Academy, thinking he would make the military his career. He was deferred from active duty because he was in school but when he out he was drafted into the U.S. Army. He was actually getting ready to go overseas when the Korean War ended.
Grover came back home and went to work for Southern Bell and stayed there about a year before returning to Marion Institute. At the end of a year there he returned to Pensacola and went to work at the fire department in 1957.
During the next few years he was married and had six children, three boys and three girls. He and his wife were later divorced. His children are Sharon Kelson, of Pensacola; George Grover Jr., who is a paint contractor in Pensacola; Richard Grover, who is a lieutenant in the fire department in Pensacola; Barbara Pettway of Bay Saint Louis, Miss.; Mary Ann Swain of Brewton and Paul Grover, a teacher and coach at Milton High School.
He met Carolyn in 1981 and in 1986 they were married.
With the marriage he inherited two daughters, Lisa Smith of Santa Rosa Beach and Teresa Barnett of Mobile. He also made the move from Pensacola to Brewton, as that was where Carolyn made her home.
During the years of working with the Pensacola Fire Department, he also worked at a construction company on his off-days. He perfected the construction skills that have come in so handy over the years since his retirement.
Soon after coming to Brewton he joined the congregation of First Baptist Church of Brewton and got involved with the Men's Ministry. He met Frank Norsworthy, the head of the ministry's construction crew, and made his first mission trip to Romania in 1997. The group helped locals with building a new church, which they finished in 1998 on the second trip.
Since that time the church group has been going to Renosa, Mexico in northern Mexico. It is close enough to the border that sometimes they have stayed in the United States while they were building. Since 1999, the group has been working on the Big Heart Orphanage.
Frank Norsworthy got Grover interested in another project in Brewton. Habitat for Humanity has become a real part of his life. Now that Norsworthy is gone, Grover has stepped in and sort of taken Norsworthy's place as head of the building crew. He has worked on the last three houses that Habitat has built here in the Brewton area.
Grover's group, The Men's Ministry of First Baptist Church, has helped on all three of the houses and they are getting ready for a fourth, which will be built on Underwood next to the last one that was built. The Men's Ministry is made up of retired men from the church who do most of the framing of the homes.
Other than his Habitat building, he has also been rather busy with his remodeling of homes for sale. When he came to Brewton he bought a couple of houses and remodeled them to sell. One is located on Belleville and another on Evergreen.
Grover is also very busy with church work. The latest project he has been involved in was the production of "Judgment House," which took place a couple of weeks ago. There was a lot of work in constructing the sets for the drama.
Grover's wife, Carolyn, is still working at Hines Realty where she has been for several years. The couple have a motor home that they plan to use a little more when she retires. They have already made several trips to places like Disney World and Pigeon Forge, and plan to make others.
They will do that when they have the time and that may not be any time too soon. Through the years he has coached baseball in the summertime. Last year his grandson, Cody Swain, played ball, and being the grandfather that he is, Grover stepped up to help with the coaching.
Retirement means different things to different people. It is clear that George Grover does not intend to sit around in his easy chair during his retirement years.