A bipartisan group of current and former elected officials attended a reception in their honor Thursday and helped the local League of Women Voters celebrate Jeanne and Horace Groff’s service to the community. One of the honorees exhorted the League to redouble is efforts at energizing the electorate to combat voter apathy and candidate reluctance.
At its annual Elected Officials Reception Thursday, the League of Women Voters of Grayson County awarded the Groffs the Citizenship Award for 2014. The League honored the Groffs for their lifetimes of service to the community – first as public servants and after retirement as volunteers. Jeanne Groff retired as principal of Golden Rule Elementary School after 41 years in public education and Horace Groff retired after serving as Grayson County judge for 21 years and in roles from police officer to probation officer before that. Both continue to give generously of their time and talents to local charities.
“We think Horace Groff and Jeanne Groff are a wonderful example of a couple that exemplifies the ideal of citizenship in Grayson County and this is why we wanted to honor them this year,” said Jacqueline Moore, who spoke in behalf of the League.
The Groffs accepted a plaque from Moore.
“I had nothing to do with this, Horace is the leader.,” Jeanne Groff said. “And he sets an example for everyone to follow and sometimes it’s really difficult to follow.” She laughed and then said, “I appreciate each and every one of you and it’s because of you that we have such a wonderful community, that we have friends here and that we can feel safe here.”
“Any of these awards is a humbling experience,” Horace Groff said. “I think we all do better the more humble we are. I don’t know what I would do differently if I had the opportunity to do other things. As she (Moore) mentioned I made one mistake when I went to Austin.” Groff referred to the time in 1987, when he resigned his position as county judge to become director of the Texas Association of Counties. The Groffs stayed near Austin for a couple of years, then decided to come back home to Grayson County and for Horace Groff to run again as a candidate for county judge. He was successful in that attempt, and kept that office for another 12 years.
“It’s been a wonderful evening,” Horace Groff said. “There are so many of you here tonight who have been instrumental in whatever we’ve been able to do. You’ve been supportive and encouraging. I appreciate you and am grateful that we’ve had the opportunity to live and work here and be part of this community.”
“I want to encourage the League to continue and you really need to do better, because I sense that with all the turmoil in Washington, that voter apathy is on the streets in Grayson County, we need to do something to change that. More and more people are not willing to offer themselves for public service because they’re not willing to subject themselves and families to some of the harassment that goes with seeking public office and then when you get the office, to the turmoil that you inherent. We need to do our best to be peacemakers and to work for the common good rather than these selfish interests that serve no one. So, thank you for the honor. We’re appreciative and we will still be around somewhere.”
In presenting the award, Moore explained that Jeanne Groff’s career included service to Texas public schools as a teacher, counselor, diagnostician, assistant principal and principal. During her years as principal of Golden Rule, the school never failed to score “exemplary,” the highest rating possible on the state’s school “report card.” In 1997, she was named Texas’ Outstanding Elementary School Principal. In that year, the Texas Legislature also honored her with a resolution thanking her for her commitment to the well being of Texas youth. After retiring, she has served on the Denison Independent School District Education Foundation. She also volunteers with Texoma Medical Center Auxiliary. She said after the reception that she also is writing a book about Golden Rule Elementary School to keep alive the memory of that unique “Cotton Mill” community in Denison.
Moore, outlining Horace Groff’s life, noted that he was born and reared in the Cotton Mill District. During his years as county judge, he oversaw the construction of the Grayson County Justice Center and Jail and the renovation of the Grayson County Courthouse.
Since retiring from public office, Groff serves on the board of directors of Texoma Health Foundation, Texoma Medical Center, Loy Park Improvement Association, Meals on Wheels and Habitat for Humanity. He employs his notable chef skills, sometimes bringing the food himself, for fund-raisers and other charitable events.
Both Groffs are active in the Virginia Point Methodist Church and spend personal time with their family of four adult children and seven grandchildren.
The League of Women Voters of Grayson County is a non-profit, non-partisan organization whose purpose is to promote civic and voter education and activism. The League, part of a statewide and national organization, does not support or oppose individual candidates or political parties. Each year the local League holds the Elected Officials and Citizenship Reception, holds Voter Forums when there are contested local elections publishes a Voters Guide in conjunction with the Herald Democrat, and purchases and distributes Voters Guides prepared by the state organization on statewide candidates. The League periodically publishes information on how to contact public officials. The League takes positionst on issues after it has studied, discussed and reached consensus on a particular set positions on an issue.
The Citizenship Award may only be presented to an elected official after he or she has left the elected position in order for the League to maintain its non-partisan commitment. The award first was accorded in 1976 to Levis Hall. Other recipients include Helen Case, Elliot Higgins, County Judge Les Tribble, Betty and Harry Thompson, Ellis Lockhart, the Rev. Bob Thompson, Arlys Middents, Judge Ralph Elliot, Judge R. C. Vaughan, Pauline and Percy Neblett, Bob Bush, Charlotte Spears, Sara Jackson, Andy White, Milly Haring, Dr. John D. Moseley, Betty Stephens, Jim Andrews, Roger Sanders, Mary Ethyl Praetz, Judge Lloyd Perkins, Janis Thompson, John Ockels, Shirley Renshaw, Judge Ray Grisham and Judge Jim Fry, Grayson County Disaster Relief leaders (David Cortinas, Neil Morgan, Jim Pledger, Jim Welch, Laura Jenkins, Lander Bethel, Linda Vess, Sharon Watson, David Grigsbay and Ralph Hendrix,) Carol Shea, Janet Lowry, Kathy Williams and the Herald Democrat,Dr. Oscar Page, Gene Short, Sharon Watson and Dr. Alan Sheibmeir.
To learn more about the League of Women Voters of Grayson County, visit the organization on Facebook.