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Ivor D. Groves Jr. | 1919-2008

Exacting in life, from faith to physics

BRANDON — It was only natural that Ivor Groves would develop a penchant for all things electrical and mechanical.

When he was a boy in Tampa, his father was a refrigerator repairman, back when refrigerators were considered high-tech. His father even built a solar energy system for the family home in the 1930s.

"His father was a tinkerer," said Mr. Groves' wife, Marjorie. "So that kind of thing just came naturally to Ivor. He could fix anything."

From a young age, Mr. Groves also had a passion for radio. He built his first ham radio when he was a teenager, and until last year he spent a lot of his spare time talking to amateur radio enthusiasts around the world.

Mr. Groves, 88, died Sept. 2 after dealing with heart problems.

He had turned his passions for machines and sound transmission into a career. For 30 years, until he retired in 1979, Mr. Groves worked at the Naval Underwater Research Laboratory in Orlando, where he was involved in developing and improving transducers for underwater applications, including sonar.

He became a recognized expert in the field, editing a textbook titled Acoustic Transducers. In 1974, he presented a paper in England at the eighth International Congress on Acoustics.

Mr. Groves was born in Kentucky but moved to Tampa with his family when he was 5. While he was still a teenager, his radio experience helped him land a job as a radio operator at the forestry tower in Valrico.

He graduated from Hillsborough High School in 1938 and studied physics at Rollins College.

During his college years, he befriended a young man he met in church. He went to his friend's house one day and met his younger sister, who would become his wife.

"I met him on my front porch," Mrs. Groves said. "I had my hair up in curlers."

He interrupted his studies to join the Army Air Forces during World War II. He flew bombers to military bases around the world where they were needed.

He later earned his bachelor's degree in physics and a master's in business from Rollins College. He and his wife raised their three children in Orlando.

At the Underwater Research Laboratory, Mr. Groves was known not just for his expertise but for demanding the best from himself and his coworkers. When he retired, his coworkers collected some of their favorite quotes from Mr. Groves into a tribute that they titled "Ivorisms."

"Do I have to hit you with a 2-by-4 to get your attention?" was one. Another was, "You can't fly with the owls at night and the eagles in the day."

Besides his work and his family, his passion was religion. He was a deacon in his church in Orlando, and even supervised the building of a new church.

"It was one of the definitions of Ivor Groves, absolutely, that he was a Christian and a Baptist," said his daughter, Carol Noland of Valrico.

Most important, Mr. Groves made sure every aspect of his life was influenced by his faith.

"He was a man of integrity who lived by God and his family, and everything he did to the best of his ability," his wife said.

Beside his wife and Noland, Mr. Groves is survived by a son, Ivor, and daughter Gail Wolven, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Exacting in life, from faith to physics 09/11/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 4:28pm]

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