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Placing Aspiring Nurses’ Goals in Reach

Robert Groce’s late mother, Betty, dreamed of becoming a nurse.

“Mom always admired her aunt, who was a nurse in Georgia and provided care to President Roosevelt when he stayed in Warm Springs for physical therapy,” he explains.

However, life had other plans for Betty. She married her great love, Walter, and became a dedicated stay-at-home mom to three sons and a daughter. Her commitment to home life allowed Walter, a Peabody native, to advance in his own career in Middleton, Gloucester and other areas throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Ultimately, Betty manifested her dreams by making nursing education possible for others.

After Betty and Walter’s passing, $1.3 million of their estate established a permanent, endowed fund for Salem State University’s School of Nursing. The fund will provide $4,500 scholarships to ten nursing students every year in perpetuity. Established as the Martha Evans and Betty Groce Scholarship, the gift also memorializes Walter’s half-sister, Martha, who planned on a nursing career before passing away from tuberculosis at age 17.

“Through the opportunities they have opened up for generations of aspiring nurses, and the communities that will benefit from their care, the Groce family’s deep kindness will touch many lives for years to come,” says President John Keenan. “Our School of Nursing is a great point of pride for Salem State, and I am thankful and honored that the Groce family saw what a lasting impact could be made through their support.”

With 565 students enrolled, the Salem State University School of Nursing helps prepare current and future nurses to meet the many challenges of today’s complex healthcare environment through several undergraduate, graduate and certification programs.

“The majority of our nursing students rely on scholarships and other forms of financial aid to complete their degree and reach their goal of launching a healthcare career,” said Joanne Carlson, chairperson of the School of Nursing. “We are forever grateful to the Groce family for bequeathing such a generous gift to assist our dedicated students, both today and for generations to come.”

Adds Cheryl Crounse, executive director of the Salem State University Foundation, “Through their estate planning, Mr. and Mrs. Groce were able to stipulate how their remaining funds should be allocated to charity while still offering an annual income stream to their children and grandchildren. We at Salem State University are honored to carry out their wishes.”

From humble beginnings, Walter and Betty Groce worked hard throughout their marriage to save and invest.

“When my father, Walter, enrolled in the Army Corps of Engineers Unit in the late 1930s, he saved all his military pay and sent it back to Betty for savings,” says Robert. “In the 1950s, he began investing these meager savings in electric, gas and telephone utility stock.”

Through the 1990s, these original investments grew into a sizable fortune. This is when the Groces decided to create an estate plan that would allow them to support deserving organizations after their passing.

“Had my mom not gotten married, she would’ve pursued nursing,” Robert explains. “In her later years, she said she was interested in doing something that would perpetuate her original dream of that vocation. It was moving to realize how strong that dream was all those years later, and that she was able to reconnect with that dream by arranging for funds to support nursing students at Salem State.”


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