GROCE, NADIA POLZI
was born in Alexandria, Egypt on August 20, 1927 to Nello Polzi and Yolande Terra and died October 7, 2013 in Austin, Texas. Nadia's father was Italian and her mother French , and both her parents were also born in Alexandria, Egypt, where Nadia was raised. Nadia was an Italian citizen, and she attended French and Italian schools in Alexandria where she lived on the Corniche along the Mediterranean in Alexandria's European colonial heyday which spanned from 1900 to the early 1950's. During World War II her father was held in an internment camp by the British until late in the war when the Italians had the sense to switch sides to the Allies. When the air raids in Alexandria became frequent, she moved with her mother and grandmother to Heliopolis, a suburb of Cairo, until Alexandria was safe again. While visiting a girlfriend in Cairo in 1949, she met William (Bill) Groce, a U.S Navy dental technician and medical photographer stationed at the Navy Medical Research Unit Three in Cairo. They hit it off, and began dating exclusively, until 1950 when Bill was assigned to the USS Hamul, a destroyer tender in Plymouth, England. Bill wrote to Nadia and asked her to marry him, but Nadia's over-protective Italian father intercepted the letter and threw it away. Bill, wrote her again, saying that he at least deserved an answer, and she wrote back asking what question? Her mother gave her the next letter, to which she replied YES! She gave up the European life of French cuisine and servants to marry a sailor. Nadia traveled to Plymouth, but the Korean War broke out and his ship was ordered back to the East Coast and then on to Japan. Nadia found passage on a French ship to New York, and then traveled by plane to Harlingen, Texas where Bill's parents lived. This was big news in the Rio Grande Valley in 1950, and the press was waiting for her arrival. A photograph of her as she was departing the plane appeared in the Valley Morning Star with the caption "Italian citizen travels from Egypt to Harlingen to wed Valley boy". While living in Harlingen with Bill's parents for seven months waiting for his ship to return from Korea, she was asked to speak at schools and the college, and was asked questions like what kind of clothes she wore there and whether she ate meals sitting on the floor. Bill's ship finally pulled into San Diego in 1951, and Nadia traveled there to meet him. They drove to Yuma, Arizona where they could get married without a waiting period, and were married in the middle of the night on May 6, 1951. After coming to America, Nadia never returned to Egypt and never saw her parents again. Nadia grew up speaking French, Italian and Arabic, and eventually learned English. Even after 62 years in America, she never lost her Italian accent. Bill's Navy career advanced and after 14 years of enlisted service, Bill was commissioned an Ensign in the Medical Service Corps in 1961. Nadia was a devoted mother and Navy wife as Bill and Nadia raised their three children, Patrick, Thomas and Jane, as military brats moving from base to base as Bill was transferred. Transfers were frequent and included Bill on shipboard duty on the USS HANCOCK and USS HECTOR. Duty stations included Naval Hospitals in San Diego, Oakland and Houston; Naval Air Stations in San Diego and Corpus Christi; Naval Stations in New Orleans and San Diego; Marine Corps duty stations at Camp H. M. Smith, Hawaii and Camp Pendleton, California. Bill left Nadia and the kids in Harlingen when he was assigned to Da Nang, Vietnam from 1968 to 1969. After returning from Vietnam, Bill was assigned to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC, the Naval Training Center in Orlando, FL and their last Navy duty at Naval Station, San Diego, CA. In 1979, Bill and Nadia retired from the Navy to Austin where he worked as a political consultant while attending the University of Texas
. Following retirement from his second career in political consulting, Bill and Nadia traveled several times to Australia, New Zealand, and Europe and made frequent trips to Florida to visit their daughter and grandchildren. Nadia is survived by son Tom and his wife Susan of Austin, and their children Alyshia Ledlie of Austin, Matthew Ledlie of Houston and Rick Groce attending college in Bellingham, Washington; and daughter Jane, Jane's husband Don Apgar and her children Sarah Huskins and Scott Huskins, all of Orlando, FL. Nadia was predeceased by her husband Bill, who passed away in 2012, and by son Patrick who died unexpectedly in June of this year. The family wishes to thank the caring aides and nurses at Clare Bridge Memory Care at the Summit at Northwest Hills, where Nadia spent her last year, and a special thanks to Rosie Hatch, Bill and Nadia's caregiver until Bill passed away. A private memorial service will be held by her family at a later date at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, where her remains will be interred with her husband Bill.