SSS member Robert Leroy Groshner, Col, USAF (Ret) headed west unexpectedly in Loudon, TN on September 14, 2017. He spent his final week doing the things he loved most: golfing, sipping a martini, and spending quality time with loved ones. Known by most as Bob, he had a smile that spread from ear to ear.
He was born to Roy L. Baker and Addie Elizabeth McMillen in Meadville, Pennsylvania on August 11, 1938. After his parents’ divorce, his mother’s new husband Francis Arthur Groshner became the father who shaped him. He grew up on the family farm in Guys Mills, Pennsylvania with his brother Bill and sisters Patricia and Darlene.
After graduating in 1955 from Randolph-East Mead High School, Bob attended Allegheny College. He served as the Meadville Area Community Ambassador to Italy; his time there sparked a lifelong appreciation for the country’s people, culture and food. He received his bachelor’s degree from Allegheny College and married Stepheny Higby, and was commissioned into the United States Air Force.
His operational career started at RAF Lakenheath Air Base in England in the F-100 Super Sabre. He deployed to Vietnam, where he flew 222 combat missions – he forever cherished the Super Sabre. Following his return to the states, he was assigned as a medical research pilot at Kelly AFB, Texas. There he became the second man to sustain 9-g’s in a centrifuge and flew the NF-100F on weightless training. Next he deployed to Korat Air Base in Thailand. Upon his return, Bob moved with his children, Maria, Vikki, and Scott, to Davis Monthan AFB in Tucson, where he served as a Squadron Commander flying the A-7 and A-10.
There he met his second wife, Elizabeth Pollard and her son Bob who was a member of the Joint Test Team that evaluated the A-10 and attack helicopters for high threat scenarios. He then became director of the Tactical Air Command Systems Office at the Electronic Systems Division at Hanscom AFB in Massachusetts. He commanded the Northern Arizona University AFROTC program His final assignment was as the head of the Air Force Drug Testing Laboratory at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio.
While in the Air Force, Bob received a master’s degree in chemistry from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. He retired as a Colonel, and throughout his service, he received the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Air Medal with eight oak leaf clusters, and the Air Force Commendation Medal.
After retiring from the Air Force, Bob turned an appreciation of golf into his second career, earning a degree in golf management at the San Diego Golf Academy, and graduating Valedictorian of his class. He played a key role in the Research and Development department at Callaway Golf in Carlsbad, CA., building clubs for many professional golfers, celebrities, including a club presented to President Bill Clinton.
Prior to his arrival at the Golf Academy, Bob was introduced to Theresa (Terri) Shawhan through her son Karl, one of Bob’s gifted students in the AFROTC Program at NAU. Recalling that Terri lived in San Diego, he looked her up when he arrived in town, and the rest is history.
Bob will be dearly missed by his surviving family: wife Terri; brother Bill Groshner and his wife Betsy; sister Patricia and her husband Jim Alexander; sister Darlene and her husband Robert Marr; children and their spouses Maria Groshner; Vikki and her husband Tony Brown; Scott Groshner and his wife Debra; Kevin Shawhan and his wife Jackie; Kim Urbanek; Kelly Shawhan and his wife Sarah; Kirk Shawhan and his wife Mary; Kerry Shawhan; Karl Shawhan and his wife Amber; Dale Pollard, as well as numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, and nephews.
Burial will be in Arlington National Cemetery on March 28, 2018 . Donations in Col Robert Groshner’s name may be made at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum or the Veterans of Foreign Wars.