Thursday, April 21, 2011

Groner Fellows: Where Are They Now?

Did you see the Tribune's fantastic follow-up article today about the Groner Fellows? You remember them. They are the Lake Forest College students fortunate enough to be recipients of the generosity of Grace Groner, the Lake Forest alumna who died in early 2010 and left LFC $7million and her Lake Forest cottage. (Special note to my readers: If anyone would like to leave me $7million, I'll do good things with (most of) it. I promise. Honestly.)

You may also recall that I received an exclusive tour of Grace's Cottage back in August. What a moving experience that was. Because Grace lived frugally, not cheaply and certainly not poorly, she will continue to live through generations of Foresters and she will impact lives all around the world. What an inspiration she is.

Anyway, the Chicago Tribune ran a follow-up today. Enjoy!
Surprise gift bears fruit for Lake Forest College
Multi-million dollar donation used to fund scholarships
By John Keilman, April 20, 2011

One year after Grace Groner left an unexpected fortune to a Lake Forest College scholarship program, her generosity has borne impressive fruit.

Groner, who died early last year at the age of 100, was a mild-mannered corporate secretary who, unknown to almost all of her friends and acquaintances, was also a shrewd investor. She turned a $180 stock purchase made in 1935 into an estate worth $7 million.

She was a longtime resident of Lake Forest, one of the wealthiest towns in the Chicago area, but lived in an exceedingly modest one-bedroom house. She never married or had children but formed a strong bond with Lake Forest College, her alma mater.

Her estate went into a foundation that Groner, a devoted traveler, meant to aid students interested in studying overseas or pursuing an internship. So far, 84 students have gotten $500 grants to help them work at places ranging from Merrill Lynch to the Chicago Botanic Garden, or to travel to countries such as England or Botswana.

Study abroad programs "don't generally pay for transportation, so this is usually a big help for airfare," said Assistant Dean Jan Miller.

Her gift to the college also included her tiny, antiquated cottage. Students helped rehab it over the summer, and now it serves as an up-to-date residence for two women who have gotten the scholarships.

One of them is Erin McGinley, a senior who used her grant to travel to Falmouth, Jamaica, a historic seaport being transformed by a cruise ship company into a tourist-friendly town. McGinley, 35, a sociology and anthropology major, documented how locals, investors and non-governmental organizations feel about the changes.

The living room holds a photo of Groner, and McGinley said looking at it produces a bittersweet feeling.

"I'm sad that I didn't get to meet her in person, but obviously she has touched a lot of people throughout the community," she said.
Grace may not have had any blood heirs when she died, but as Foresters, we're all Grace's heirs.

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