Obituary of William M. Grover
William “Bill” Maurice Grover, 80, of Rocky Hill, CT (formerly of East Lyme), beloved husband for 57 years of Virginia “Ginger” (Heslin) Grover, passed away peacefully on Thursday, December 17, 2020 after a valiant struggle with Alzheimer’s Disease and finally a brief fight with COVID-19. He had a remarkable career with Aetna Life & Casualty in Hartford for 35 years, finishing his tenure as a vice president. Born on March 25, 1940, in South Berwick, Maine, he was the son of Roger M. and Sally (Willson) Grover. Bill was a graduate of Old Lyme High School, class of 1958, where he lettered in soccer, basketball and baseball and also served as student council president. His basketball scoring record, where he tallied 32 points in a single game in 1957, stood for many years. In 1962 he graduated from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, majoring in Business Administration and was a member of Delta Sigma Pi fraternity. A hulking man in his prime, he stood six feet six inches tall and weighed in at well over 300 pounds, but he was truly a gentle giant. Bill rarely raised his voice or became angry and was genuinely a kind soul. In July of 1959, while working at the White Sand Beach Store, Bill met Ginger, the love of his life, whose family spent their summers in Old Lyme. Their courtship progressed throughout their college years culminating with an engagement in 1962, and a beautiful summer wedding in August of 1963. They welcomed a baby boy (Roger) into the world in 1964 and a set of twin girls (Tracey and Trisha) in 1966. Bill and Ginger first lived in Kensington, CT and later New Britain, CT before moving the family to Hoffman Estates, IL in 1967. They moved back to Connecticut in 1970 where Bill and Ginger built a home in East Lyme, CT. It was here that Bill established himself in town politics and numerous volunteer activities. A little league baseball coach for many years, he also helped establish the East Lyme girls’ softball and basketball programs. On the political front, Bill held elected positions for more than 20 years serving in the following roles: Board of Education for eight years; five as chairman, Board of Finance for eight years; six as chairman, and Board of Selectmen for four years. Bill also served as vice president of government relations for the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education. In 1978 he ran unsuccessfully for the House of Representatives (37th district); it was the only loss in his political career. Along with getting married, 1963 was also the year that Bill began working at “The Aetna” in Hartford. He served in many roles across his illustrious career and specialized in reengineering, project management, construction management, and facilities management. If there were efficiencies to be gained, money to be saved, and hard decisions needed, that’s where Bill excelled. He began his career as an analyst in an area known as the Operations Analysis. He eventually became director of this group that was tasked with rooting out inefficiencies across the corporate landscape. His work in this area laid the foundation for a career in which Bill regularly took on projects that saved the company millions of dollars per year. From 1980-1981, as an “Executive on Loan” from Aetna, Bill served as senior vice president and secretary/treasurer of the National Alliance of Business in Washington, D.C. He cherished this time living in Alexandria, VA while getting the opportunity to work in the nation’s capital. In January, 1981 Bill and Ginger danced the night away at President Ronald Reagan’s first Inaugural Ball. Later that same year Bill returned to Connecticut and took on a project that would be the highlight of his career: managing the overall construction of the 1.5 million square foot Aetna Middletown facility. Bill was proud to acknowledge that the $150 million project was completed on time and under budget. He later served as facilities director of the Middletown location from 1984-1985. The next stop in Bill’s career (1985-1990) was facility director for the Aetna home office on Farmington Avenue in Hartford, including the Aetna Institute and Capitol Avenue properties. He oversaw an extensive and widespread staff responsible for all building and real estate operations including construction, security, maintenance and grounds. One of Bill’s final assignments was as vice president of administration services for Aetna’s standard commercial accounts where he was responsible for an organization totaling more than 1300 employees. A gifted and talented public speaker and natural leader, Bill truly enjoyed his work, but more so he loved the people, the interactions, the relationships and the comradery. Bill went on to enjoy 24 years of retirement where he and Ginger traveled extensively to numerous destinations in the Caribbean, California and Mexico. He once took a three day trip to Hawaii just to see the active volcano lava flows. In the late 90s Bill and Ginger shared time between Boca Raton, FL and East Lyme, but ultimately the draw of family brought them back to Connecticut permanently. As a grandfather, he integrated himself into his grandchildren’s lives in every way possible, whether it was attending sporting events, extracurricular activities, school plays or other functions. “Papa” was famously known by his grandchildren as being an easy phone call away, always available for a pick-up from school or practice, a drop-off at a friend’s house, or just there if they needed a calm voice to talk to. As a father, he continued to set an example as the leader of the family, constantly available to help his children with their home improvement projects, babysitting duties, or whatever was needed. He cherished any type of gathering: birthday celebrations, summer cookouts, pool parties, or other special occasions with family and friends. Bill was always up for good conversation and delicious food. He relished the opportunity to take his family out to dinner; Dad always picked up the tab, no matter how many guests were at the table. His grandchildren are thankful for their many cherished memories of fun day trips, overnight visits and especially breaking whatever rules their parents or Grandma had put in place. Papa was, quite simply, the best partner-in-crime ever. He was a lifelong fan of the Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics, Washington Redskins, UConn Women’s Basketball and the Hartford Whalers. He was rarely seen without one of his signature baseball caps, even when wearing a suit and tie. Bill was a wonderful father who loved his family unconditionally and provided them with a wonderful upbringing. He was a devoted husband and loving grandfather. He will be remembered as a man with a great sense of humor, much patience and unwavering courage. He always showed loyalty, thoughtfulness and kindness to others. Above all he was a selfless, compassionate and giving person. Bill will be dearly missed. He is survived by his loving wife, Virginia “Ginger” (Heslin) Grover; son Roger and wife Donna Grover of Rocky Hill; daughters Tracey and husband James McMillan of Cromwell, Trisha and husband Mark DeBacco of Webster, NY; sister Carol and husband Thomas Cerny of Grand Blanc, MI; and six loving grandchildren, Brandon Grover of Boston, MA, Allison Grover of Rocky Hill, CT, Ian McMillan and Connor McMillan of Cromwell, CT, and Molly DeBacco and Drew DeBacco of Webster, NY. Bill also leaves in-laws Patrick and Marie Heslin of Berlin, CT, Frederica Heslin of Marlborough, CT, and John Heslin of Berlin, CT. He was predeceased by his sister Mary Elizabeth Grover Dowdell of Old Lyme, CT and Brooksville, FL and two brothers-in-law: Robert K. Heslin of Palm Beach Shores, FL and William J. Heslin III of Marlborough, CT. He also leaves behind a much loved and remarkable array of nieces, nephews and cousins. The family is very appreciative of the care Bill received at Middlesex Hospital. The staff there was truly amazing. We would especially like to thank nurse and angel Mary Rogalski from South 7 Hospice who cared for Bill during his final hours. There are no calling hours or services. Plans are being made to celebrate Bill’s life with family and friends in July/August 2021. Details will be announced at a later date. The Farrell Funeral Home has care of arrangements.
A Memorial Tree was planted for William
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Farrell Funeral Home