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Emily Frances Groeger was welcomed into God’s Kingdom on September 10, 2022. Emily was a resident of Woodland Park, Colorado. She was blessed with 14 children and lived to the age of 101.
Emily was born in North Platte, Nebraska, on June 24, 1921, to Swiss immigrants, Ernst and Fanny (Dubs) Schmid. When Emily was one year old, the family moved to Humphrey, Nebraska, where her parents opened a bakery. Her parents, Emily and her brother Richard lived above the bakery. In time, the family moved to a larger house where two sisters, Louise and Stella were born. Two younger sisters died in infancy.
Emily had a typical mid-western small-town childhood. She told many stories of a loving, safe community. For example, one day as a friend of the family was walking past the Catholic school, she saw Emily sitting on the steps. Knowing that she was too young for school, she asked what Emily was doing and Emily told her “I was going to school.” The lady informed her, “Little girls don’t go to school in overalls.” Hurrying home, she changed into a dress and went back. Emily was sent home with a form to be filled out by her parents to attend school. She really wasn’t old enough to start that year.
As Emily grew older, she worked in the bakery where she waited on customers, served the lunch room guests, and worked along with her dad in the bake shop. She had a passion for baking that lasted through all of the years raising children and for many years after everyone left home. She started baking cookies in October for Christmas and would fill the freezer.
For Emily and friends, life wasn’t all work. They had fun times too. They loved to roller skate- not in a rink, but on the sidewalks of town. Swimming was another thing they did whenever they could. Her best friend, Norma Jane, had a pony and cart. With a picnic basket and swimming things, they would ride down to the park and pool to spend the day.
Emily told one memory of a Girl Scout trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, where they rode in the back of a cattle truck. Travelers included thirty girls, a scout leader, the truck driver, his assistant driver, and her high school professor. The girls rode on benches lined up in the back of the truck.
Emily graduated from Humphrey High School as valedictorian of her class in 1938. There were 6 girls and one boy in her graduating class. After high school, Emily enrolled in a one-year secretarial course at Midland College in Fremont, Nebraska. Upon completion of the secretarial course, she went back to work in the family business in the spring of 1939. She understood business and was very organized.
In 1941, Emily accepted a civil service position as a clerk typist for the War Department in Washington, DC. The term was for the duration of an emergency; the emergency was World War II. She applied for a government position in California. Emily was sent to San Francisco and eventually to Berkley where she worked for the Department of Agriculture supervising the setup of filing systems. On August 15, 1945, the good news was heard everywhere. Japan had surrendered and the war was over.
While Emily worked in Washington, she met Raymond Groeger who was the cousin of her roommate and best friend. Raymond was a Master Sergeant in the army and served in North Africa and Europe during the war. He had been raised in the small farming community of Peetz, Colorado. When peace was declared, Raymond wrote Emily to say he was going home to Peetz and then coming to San Francisco where he proposed to her. Raymond and Emily were married in Peetz on December 29, 1945.
Emily and Raymond moved to Denver where Raymond attended medical school. There they started to raise a family. Four children were born in Denver. After Raymond graduated, they moved to Yankton, South Dakota, where Raymond completed his medical school residency. One child was born while they were in South Dakota.
In searching for a good place to settle down after his residency, the couple considered Woodland Park. However, Woodland was a small town, and they were told that it would be difficult for a physician with five children to survive financially even though they had advertised for a full-time general practitioner. They decided on Sterling, Colorado, where one of Raymond’s sisters lived.
The last 9 children were born in Sterling. Emily was a member of Beta Sigma Phi and a Cub Scout den mother. She was active in church organizations. When there was a church bake sale, orders for her coconut custard rolls would come in before she even delivered them to the sale.
In the early 1960s, Raymond pursued a specialty in allergy medicine. The family moved to Waco, Texas, where Raymond took over an existing medical practice. Emily was a busy homemaker, raising and training 14 children. Again, she was active in the community. With limited time, she still found time to be involved in the PTA and church organizations.
In 1976, Emily and Raymond decided to return to Colorado and started a medical practice in Woodland Park. At that time, there were only 4 children at home. Emily had more time to be active in the community. She was a member of the Lion’s Club and church committees.
When the last of the children left the house, Emily and Raymond began to enjoy retirement. They loved to travel, visiting most of the U.S. and several foreign countries.
Raymond passed away in 1990. Emily continued to be active in several clubs, including the Lion’s Club, a social club, and the Camper’s Club. She served on the library board and helped at the Senior Center in Woodland.
In her declining years, Emily enjoyed being surrounded by her family, even though she was struggling with health issues. She enjoyed playing computer games until her vision made that difficult. She loved to play Rummi Kub, which helped keep her mind sharp. She would correct anyone’s errors in the addition of the score, and she would always be correct. She played that game until the end and she was hard to beat!
Emily Frances Groeger will leave a lasting mark in the lives of so many people. She was always a mother before anything else- worrying about everyone else’s needs before her own. She is survived by 14 children, 31 grandchildren with the loss of 1, 24 great-grandchildren, 2 sisters and many nieces and nephews.
Services will be held at Our Lady of the Wood Catholic Church on Tuesday, September 20, 2022 at 11 am.
In her memory, please donate to “Choices” in Woodland Park.