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Thomas “Tom” LaGrande Groot, also known as “Reds” to his family, died peacefully in his sleep on March 22, 2019 in Charlottesville, Virginia. He would have been 100 in another month and a half, a goal he had hoped to achieve. He was predeceased by his beloved wife Julia (April 25,2011), six brothers, two sisters, four sisters-in-law and three brothers-in-law.
Tom was a loving husband, father, uncle and a welcomed addition to his wife Julia’s family. He is survived by his daughter Patricia A. Groot and son-in-law Thomas S. Lucas of Charlottesville VA, brother-in-law Jack Histon of Wheaton MD, nephews Michael Histon and his wife Colleen of New Windsor MD, Steven Histon and his wife Jennette of Baltimore MD, Melvin James of Clinton MD, Joey Mothershead of Charlotte Hall MD, Eddie Mothershead of Kingsport TN, nieces Dee Mothershead Hoffman of Clinton MD, Jackie Bonney and her husband Gary of Rockville MD, JoAnne Cornwell and husband Kent of Brunswick GA, and Coletta Ann Fidler and her husband Albert Couthen of Peoria AZ, as well as great-nieces and great-nephews and their families.
Tom was born on May 7, 1919 in Cleveland, Ohio to the late Marion Neil Groot and Gertrude Elizabeth Allison Groot. As a toddler he moved with his family to a farm in Pennsylvania before returning to Ohio. As a young adult he joined the Ohio Civilian Conservation Corps in 1939 then joined the US Navy the same year. While stationed in Washington DC, Tom met his future wife, Julia Vera Quattrociocchi, on Pearl Harbor Day at a USO Club dance. After meeting Julia, he was introduced to the Italian culture, sharing meals and homemade red or dandelion wine at dinners prepared by Julia’s motherAnnie.
During WWII, Tom served on the USS Reuben James, USS McCalla, USS Calypso (escort ship to President Roosevelt), and the USS Corry DD-463 (fleet escort, coastal patrol, submarine hunter, naval gun support and prisoner transport). On D-Day June 6, 1944 the USS Corry was sunk off Utah Beach in Normandy France while providing naval gun support to landing troops. Twenty-four shipmates were lost that day. Tom survived and was recovered from the water by the USS Fitch. His last duty assignment was as a deep-sea diver retrieving torpedoes from the Naval testing range in the Chesapeake Bay. He was honorably discharged in 1945. In the years following the war, USS Corry shipmates and their families attended a Corry reunion each year for 40 years.
After his return from the war, Tom and his “sweet Julie” were married on October 7, 1945. They settled in metropolitan Maryland where they raised their only child. Tom became an electrician while working for the railroad at Union Station in Washington DC from 1945-1959, worked at Walter Reed Hospital until 1964, then retired from NASA Godard Space Flight Center in 1978, ending 40 years of military and government service. Tom and Julia retired to Winchester VA where they built their first house. After Julia passed away, Tom shared his daughter and son-in-law’s home in Charlottesville VA.
Tom enjoyed dancing the Jitterbug with Julia, swimming, hunting, fishing, astronomy, making wine, woodworking and generally taking things apart to see what made them “tick.” Tom became a Master Mason of the Winchester Hiram Lodge No 21. Having played a support role in the Apollo launches he was left with a lifelong love of space exploration. In later years he enjoyed being on Facebook, searching the Internet and swimming twice a week up until a week before he died.
Tom and Julia Groot will be buried together at Arlington National Cemetery on February 27, 2020 at 9:30 AM.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to: Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, 3365 Monastery Drive, Crozet VA 22932-2116 or United States Navy Memorial, PO Box 96570, Washington DC 20090-6570; In memory of Thomas LaGrande Groot, BM1 USN, USS Corry DD-463 and Julia Vera Groot https://www.navymemorial.org/donate-gift-in-honor-form (online contribution).