Meriden, NH - Malcolm Grobe, 82, died amid song and prayer at Hanover Terrace on May 15, 2013. A fixture in the Upper Valley since 1960, Malcolm touched the lives of many in this little sliver of the universe. From games to gatherings, Mondays to Sundays, Malcolm stepped up to meet all occasions: he was a pastor, a teacher, a family man and friend, a person who espoused his beliefs but who also listened to the views of others. His voice was a trumpet, and many heard it.
Malcolm was born on November 12, 1930, in Chicago, Illinois, to Herbert and Leona “Bernice” (Adams) Grobe. Along with his two brothers and two sisters, Malcolm grew up in Oak Park, Illinois. He graduated from Oak Park Township High School in 1948 and from Beloit College in Wisconsin in 1952. An accomplished tennis player, Malcolm was a high school state champion, and he went on to win similar accolades at Beloit. He continued to enjoy the game throughout his life, both as a player and an instructor. When hitting tennis balls with Malcolm, opponents and students often felt they were facing an automatic ball-return, with personality included. Lesson fees were inexpensive, often free, as Malcolm always believed in seeking bargains, and returning them as well.
After graduating from Andover-Newton Theological Seminary in 1956, Malcolm married Ann Glavin from Concord, NH, and in the span of five-plus years the couple produced four sons. These years also marked the beginning of more than 50 years in the ministry, beginning full-time in Connecticut at the Killingworth Congregational Church from 1958 to 1960; and then at the West Lebanon Congregational Church from 1960 to 1968, during a tumultuous and impressionable time in our nation’s history. Many people, particularly teenagers, sought out Malcolm’s guidance, as the Vietnam War and issues of civil rights conflicted many. Not everyone agreed with Malcolm’s views and his propensity to make them known, but nobody could deny his conviction. These draining times also marked an end and a new beginning for the Grobe family, as Malcolm resigned his post in West Lebanon and shifted his focus to public education.
In 1970 he began teaching 5th grade at the former Meriden White School, and he retired in 1993 from Plainfield School after 23 years of sharing his passion for life—including sports—with hundreds of grade school students from Meriden and Plainfield. Malcolm much preferred active learning over textbook learning, and over the years former students have expressed their fond memories of his class: listening and learning from diverse music selections; pitching in lunch scraps for Malcolm’s pigs; going on nature walks to the brook behind the school. Students speak of many activities, ones that extended beyond the classroom and the afternoon bell, but what they truly remember most is the teacher himself. Prior to his retirement, Principal Joan Garipay wrote in the town report: “It is difficult to imagine Plainfield School without Malcolm. He has always been a child advocate. If there was someone who was friendless, Mr. Grobe was there to fill the void.”
In the following years, Malcolm enjoyed his “retirement” with his wife Teddy, whom he married in December, 1974. He continued to substitute teach at the school; he also subbed for a number of years in the Hartford School District, which included time coaching high school girls soccer and the two tennis teams. As with education, the
ministry never was able to shake Malcolm either. Over the years, he performed more baptisms, weddings, and funerals to safely count—they’re recorded somewhere—and he also served as an interim minister in local communities, most notably Orford and Charlestown. It is his imprint on his hometowns of Meriden and Plainfield, however, which is etched most deeply and forever.
Malcolm is survived by his wife, Theodora "Teddy" (Walther) Grobe of Sanbornton, NH; his four children, David Grobe of Plainfield, Dennis Grobe of Portsmouth, NH, Jeff Grobe (and wife Sue) of Plainfield, and Jon Grobe of White River Junction, VT; his four step-children: Bernard Walter of Harvey's Lake, PA, Cheri Walther of Moultonborough, NH, Connie O’Leary of Meriden, and Kalani Walther of Kilauea, HI; two sisters, Elizabeth Fowler of Weaverville, NC, and Barbara Fatout of Aurora IL; his first wife, Ann Grobe of Plainfield; six grandchildren, Sam and Alex of Portsmouth; Lauren of Plainfield; and Jennifer, Mallory, and Stephanie of White River Jct.; along with many nieces, nephews, and other relatives. He was predeceased by his parents and his two brothers, Edward Grobe and David J. Grobe.
A special thanks goes out to niece Sherry Grobe of Mount Prospect, IL, who adored “Uncle Mal” and who remains the devoted link that brings family together.
Family and friends are invited to call at the Ricker Funeral Home in Lebanon, NH on Thursday, May 30, 2013 from 2-4PM and 6-8PM. A Memorial Service will be held on Friday, May 31, 2013 at 10AM at the Meriden Congregational Church.