Gary Grove grew up fishing the Ocean with his Grandpa Alexander on a boat his Grandpa built by hand. He shared the stories of those days on the perilous waters for years to come and lived a life guided by the work ethic he first learned there.
“When Dad was 13 years old he was out commercial salmon fishing with his Grandpa,” son Randy Grove recalled. “They got into rough seas and he almost fell into the ocean. Meanwhile, his Grandpa got his finger caught in the block and cut it off. Grandpa then drank a bit of whiskey, for medicinal purposes — grin — and my dad had to captain the boat back over the Columbia River bar into Astoria. Then he drove his Grandpa to the doctor. All at the age of 13.”
Gary died April 26 at his home in Toledo. He’ll be remembered as a man who lived a full life, a man who was firm, but fair, a Golden Gloves boxer who saw his career cut short by a car accident, and a youth baseball coach who touched the lives of innumerable kids.
“He was always a really hard worker and he taught me how to work,” Randy said. “He took a lot of pride in that. He wasn’t one to sit around and watch TV.”
Gary was born on Sept. 26, 1939 in Astoria to Gail and Leonard Grove. It wasn’t an easy childhood. His parents divorced when he was 10, and Gary was raised by his mother and grandparents, later moving to Longview to live with his mother and stepdad. He finished his last year of high school in Toledo, then headed to Forest Grove to Pacific University to pursue his dreams of becoming an architect.
“He loved to build and design things,” Randy said. “He was trying to put himself through school, but it just wasn’t in the cards. But he didn’t complain. He never complained.”
Gary returned to Toledo, where he finally persuaded Patty, who’d previously turned down his request for a date, to give him a shot. The pair fell in love. “He made me laugh so hard,” Patty said. “We got engaged on the night I graduated from high school.” They raised a family of four while Gary built a successful career at Georgia Pacific — never losing his passion for designing and building.
“My junior or senior year, we built a big house on our property right above our old house,” Randy said. “He and I and my Grandad and great uncle came down and we worked on it for a year. Dad designed it and we built it ourselves. Hell, we even cut the timber off of there and logged it ourselves. He was really proud of that place. Later, he moved up the hill and built another place. There wasn’t much down time. He retired young at 56. He and my mom got to have some really great golden years. They bought a house in Arizona and wintered in Yuma. They just had a great life together. He befriended so many people.”
Gary is survived by his wife, Patty, son Randy (Darla), daughter Shelley and grandkids, Garret, Shayla, Kyle, Trevor, Levi (Marilynn), Lindsey, Eli and six great grandchildren; brothers Colin Bancroft (Claudia), Bill Bancroft (Loranna), sister Theresa Fargo (Chris) and many nieces, nephews and cousins. Two sons, Cary and Terry, preceded him in death.
August 30 would have been Patty and Gary’s 60th anniversary. Of Gary’s many achievements, it was his marriage of which he was most proud.
“His marriage meant everything to him,” Randy said. “They were close. They shared a beautiful life together.”
Services for Gary will be held May 4, at 2 p.m. at the Toledo Elks Club.