Carol A. Groner, 62, SSA programmer and counselor to police kin

March 17, 2004|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Carol A. Groner, a computer programmer for the Social Security Administration and a grief counselor who helped comfort relatives of police officers killed in the line of duty, died of a blood clot in the lung Sunday at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. The Fort Howard resident was 62.

Mrs. Groner was born Carol Anne Rose Spicer in Baltimore and raised near Edmondson Avenue. After graduating from the Institute of Notre Dame in 1959, she married Phillips Peters and moved to Catonsville, where she began raising her family. The marriage ended in divorce.

In the late 1960s, she was a clerical worker at St. Agnes Hospital. She later became a computer programmer and worked for Black & Decker, First National Bank and Martin Marietta Corp. Aerospace Division.

Mrs. Groner began working in 1990 at Social Security in Woodlawn as a contract employee with Computer Associates. In 1999, she was hired by SSA as a programmer, and at the time of her death was a senior security information technology specialist.

She was married in 1993 to Harvey H. Groner Jr., whose son, Mark P. Groner, a state trooper, was killed the year before in a three-car collision while responding to a traffic accident on the Eastern Shore.

"It took me seven years to stop crying whenever I mentioned my son's name," Mr. Groner said.

To help Mr. Groner cope with the loss of his son, the couple joined the Maryland chapter of Concerns of Police Officers (COPS), which works with relatives of police officers killed in the line of duty. They trained as counselors.

"It straightened us out, and we thought we could help others get straightened out," Mr. Groner said. "Carol was a giver and always thought of others,"

Group members said Mrs. Groner cared deeply about the people she counseled.

"She brought strength and calmness," said Lisa L. Lanzi, former president of the COPS chapter. "She cared greatly about this work even though she wasn't the birth mother of Harvey's son."

Mrs. Lanzi said the couple were inseparable in their work.

"They could pick up the pieces and help get people through the tragedy and loss of their loved one" she said. "And that's a gift. She saw how it helped Harvey, and it was her way of paying back.

"She was able to bring calmness when people have a tendency to go off in hysterics," said Mrs. Lanzi, whose husband, Joseph T. Lanzi Sr., a state trooper, died in a traffic accident in 1995 in Elkton. "She'd probably not like me saying this, but she was a very grandmotherly-type of person. She'll be sorely missed because she touched and helped so many lives."

Mrs. Groner and her husband enjoyed sailing the Chesapeake Bay aboard their cabin cruiser, Moving Up III. They were active members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

"We taught safe-boating classes, participated in search-and-rescue operations and gave assistance to boaters in need," Mr. Groner said. "If anyone needed help on the water, we were there to help out.

"She was good at this because Carol could talk to anyone and she would also listen. And she could also give and take advice," he said.

Mrs. Groner enjoyed collecting model lighthouses.

She was a communicant, Eucharistic minister and member of the Sodality at St. Luke Roman Catholic Church, 7517 North Point Road, where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Friday.

In addition to her husband, Mrs. Groner is survived by three sons, Phillips Peters III of Des Moines, Iowa, David Peters of Westminster and Joseph Peters of Baltimore; two daughters, Suzanne Hollowell of Cockeysville and Jeanette McKeage of Bel Air; a stepson, Harvey H. Groner III of Savannah, Ga.; a stepdaughter, Lisa Kline of Glen Burnie; a brother, George Spicer of Catonsville; two sisters, Mary Beth Balog of Lutherville and Susan Ensor of White Hall; nine grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

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