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Walter Grote

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NEWTON - Walter Grote, of Newton, passed peacefully of natural causes on Sept. 6, 2013, at the age of 90.

Walter was a former mayor and councilman of Scotch Plains, longtime employee of Standard Oil (aka S.O., Esso, Exxon, Exxon-Mobil), former elder at Willow Grove (Scotch Plains) & Brick Presbyterian Churches. He was a former master sergeant in the United States Army when he oversaw German prisoners at Fort Niagara, N.Y., during World War II. As devoted as he was to his God, his country and his employer, Walter was thoroughly committed to his family. For as long as he was physically able, he always prioritized family activities, rarely missing a child's team's game or meet whether they were playing or sitting on the bench.

Walter was born in his home on 10 High St. in Elizabeth, on Dec. 24, 1922, and was raised in the Peterstown section of Elizabeth. As an adult, he lived in Elmora (Elizabeth), Scotch Plains, Brick (Lions Head South), where he was master of ceremonies for many of the Lions Head South talent shows from 1990-2010, and most recently, at Bristol Glen in Newton. A graduate of Thomas Jefferson (now Elizabeth) High School, Walter was an avid supporter of the athletic careers of his nephews, nieces, sons and grandchildren, cheering them on at Thomas Jefferson, Scotch Plains and later Rutgers and Cornell Universities. He coached recreational baseball, served as Scoutmaster of Troop 102 in Scotch Plains and was an adviser for Junior Achievement in Elizabeth.

Walter went to college and graduated from Upsala College and Rutgers University with BS and MBA degrees respectively. He started as a pipe-fitter and boiler-maker, but once he was degreed, worked for Esso and then Exxon as a supervisor. As an early systems analyst, he worked with one of the first IBM computers used in business at the Bay Way Refinery. That computer was as large as a basketball court and held less memory than today's laptop.

The son of the late Frank Grote Sr. and Louise (Midgley) Grote, Walter also was predeceased by his older brother, Frank Grote Jr. He is survived by his loving wife of 64 years, Pegee (Agnes Kravec) Grote, of Newton; two sons, Walter R. of Newton and Stewart R. Grote of Leavenworth, Kan., and their families, including Walter's wife, Debbie (Reilly) Grote, and their children, (Walter) Luke Grote, Mary-Stewart Grote and her husband, Phillip, and son, Fillmore Mac, Brielle Grote, Skylar Grote, Eric Banda and family, Vanessa Banda Ulmer and family, and Michael Banda and his wife, Brittany. Also, Stewart's wife, Catherine (Missy) Martin Grote, and their children, (Jon) Michael Grote and Morgan Grote. He also is survived by his two younger brothers, Robert Grote of Brick and William Grote of Arlington, Va.; and many nieces and nephews.

Walter Grote lived his life by the motto on the Grote family shield - "To do good, rather than be famous."

He shared with his family that once when he was on the town council, he was offered a "free lunch." He kindly declined the offer and told the supporter that there was no such thing as a "free lunch" and that he'd rather pay for his lunch than create a nebulous "IOU" - a lesson that will be passed on to future generations.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, Sept. 9, at the First Presbyterian Church of Newton, 54 High St., Newton, with the Rev. David Young and Luke Grote officiating. A memorial visitation will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 8, at Smith-McCracken Funeral Home, 63 High St., Newton.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to KidsPeace Corporate Headquarters, 4085 Independence Drive, Schnecksville, PA 18078-2574; or Bristol Glen Fellowship Fund, 200 Bristol Glen Drive, Newton, NJ, 07860. Online condolences may be offered at www.smithmccrackenfuneralhome.com.

Published in The New Jersey Herald from Sept. 8 to Sept. 9, 2013
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