Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Veteran Voices from LifeBio: Dr. John Grover

by Dr. John Grover, resident at Fredericka Manor Retirement Community

On my 18th birthday, I enlisted in the Navy – my older brother was already a Navy pilot. At the time that I enlisted, the war was still on, so I felt committed to being a serviceman. I wanted to be a hospital corpsman, but because I did well on the Eddy Test, I was earmarked for electronics school, which is what I ended up doing. A whole year of intensive technical training in electronics was good preparation for college. After my training ended, I volunteered to go anywhere in the world and was sent to Washington, D.C., where I helped develop new electronic communications equipment. Learning to deal with the pressures and experiences of complex electronics service was a good background for my future medical career. I later "shipped over" to gain the GI Bill to help pay for my educational expenses. By then the war was over, so I did not see combat.

Boot camp at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station was marred by my catching mumps and being hospitalized for three weeks. The war ended while I was in basic training, and I remember singing in a 10,000-voice choir to celebrate. I kept a diary during my technical schooling in Gulfport, Mississippi, but I was more concerned with describing the pretty girls at the USO or sailing trips on the Gulf of Mexico. I remember one time when I knitted a pair of booties at the USO for my new nephew, to amazing looks from the girls.

Upon my discharge from the Navy, I went directly from my station in Maryland to Harvard College, and did not get home until Christmas, 1949. I felt immediately at home at Harvard Yard that year. I was one of the vets still turning up for college, and we had mature goals. I had a Pepsi Cola scholarship that helped with college expenses, and I had saved the GI Bill so that I could attend medical school. A fellowship sponsored by the Josiah Macy Foundation helped with post-graduate education. I felt excited but really at home in finally getting the medical training I had always wanted. I went on to become a doctor, specializing in obstetrics/gynecology. In fact, I have delivered over 5,000 babies in my 40-year medical career!

Music has always been an important part of my life, from the early tutorings of my mother on piano to learning the trombone with Frank Troy, Sr. and Mildred Fowler in high school. I played in a traveling dance band in the summers of 1943 and 1944, and also with a band in the Navy, with weekly concerts on the Potomac River. In college, I played with the Harvard band, a full-sized dance band, and a small Dixieland group. During my adult life, I sang in church choirs regularly, because tenors are always needed. These activities have continued throughout my retirement, both in Chicago and here in Chula Vista.

I am grateful for the gift of good health throughout my life. I am especially grateful for my wife, Philippa, whom I have known since our childhood days in West Virginia, and the wonderful family we have shared.

LifeBio is an engagement program that captures cherished memories and lasting legacies through storytelling. Since launching in 2000, LifeBio has helped 20,000 people tell their life stories through autobiographical tools and services for all levels of care. LifeBio uses technologies as mediums to help individual document their stories in an easy and unique way such as tablets, web cams, and audio and video equipment. LifeBio has been a partner with Front Porch since 2009. For more details, check out LifeBio’s Impact Story on the Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing (FPCIW) website. 

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