In Memoriam: Addison Groff ‘49

The Rev. Addison Keiper Groff, Class of 1949, died on Sunday, January 21, 2018 in Los Angeles at the age of 98.

Funeral services will be held on Monday, January 29, 2018 at 4:30 PM at St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church, 7501 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, with burial to follow in the Groff family plot at Greenwood Cemetery in Lancaster, PA.

Born in Rochester, NY, on March 22, 1919, and raised in Lancaster County and western Maryland, Groff graduated with a degree in English from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA, in 1941. Called to the ministry just as his father was before him, he graduated from Lancaster Theological Seminary in 1944 and served for four years in the Evangelical and Reformed Church (now part of the United Church of Christ) in western Pennsylvania. He was drawn to the Episcopal Church by the beauty and grace of its worship, and through the mentorship of the Rev. William Chamberlain and the Rev. Richard Kunkel. After an Anglican year at General, he was ordained to the diaconate at the Church of Our Savior in Dubois, PA in 1949, and to the priesthood at Christ Church, Punxsutawney, PA in 1950. He served as curate at Trinity Episcopal Church in New Castle, PA.

In 1953, Groff became rector of St. Agnes’ Church in East Orange, New Jersey. He married Irene Bornemann, known as Ronnie, in 1954. He shepherded a racially diverse parish through the struggle and progress of the civil rights movement, culminating in the construction of a new parish hall as a symbol of hope and unity. Called in 1971 to be rector at the former St. Peter’s Church in Rochelle Park, New Jersey, he again led a major building project, restoring the church in the Tudor style and reconstructing its iconic bell tower.

During his years in the Diocese of Newark, he was secretary to the Corporation for the Relief of Widows, Widowers and Children of the Clergy (CWWC) of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the State of New Jersey, assistant secretary of the diocesan convention, and chaplain of the former House of the Holy Comforter in West Orange, where he celebrated Holy Communion weekly from 1954 until his retirement. He also served as chaplain of the East Orange and Rochelle Park fire departments.

Addison and Ronnie retired to Houston, Delaware in 1989, where he became priest associate at Christ Church, Milford, and regularly conducted services at St. Stephen’s, Harrington, and St. John the Baptist, Milton. In retirement he cultivated an extensive garden, while fishing and boating in his beloved tidewater rivers and creeks. After Ronnie’s death in February 2003, he relocated to Los Angeles to be close to family. He attended All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena and St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church in Hollywood, enjoyed his grandchildren, keenly followed developments in the church, kept abreast of the world through the New York Times and Facebook, and rooted for the Dodgers.

He is survived by his son David Groff and son-in-law Clay Williams; his son Jonathan Groff and daughter-in-law Martha Chowning; two grandchildren, Medora and Edwin; brother Joseph Groff and sister-in-law Margaret Groff; and many nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in celebration of Addison’s life and ministry be made to Episcopal Relief and Development.