Cover photo for Pauline Groneman's Obituary
Pauline Groneman Profile Photo
1934 Pauline 2016

Pauline Groneman

April 1, 1934 — February 29, 2016

Polly was born Pauline Ruth Mitchell on April 1, 1934 in Boston Massachusetts to Margaret (Walsh) and Gilbert Mitchell. She graduated from Jamaica Plain High School, Boston in 1952 and subsequently attended Wheaton College, Wheaton, Ill. and the Syracuse University School of Journalism, Syracuse, N.Y.

Polly spent the summers of her college years working aboard the S.S. North American as it sailed the Great Lakes. The fond memories she gathered from her time on the North American were evident in stories she told and memorabilia she collected. It was on the North American where Polly met her first husband, Ted, and they were wed on June 19, 1959. They lived for a short time in Chicago, where daughter Judy was born, and then established roots in Nogales, Arizona where Ted worked as a U.S. Immigration Officer on the Mexican border, Polly worked as a reporter for the Arizona Daily Star, and their children Ted, Jr. and Kristina were born. In 1967, Ted took a post as a Public Safety Director with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the family moved to Monrovia, Liberia, where they resided until 1972. Polly enjoyed her time in Liberia where she met lifelong friends and collected native artifacts and goods that she treasured and prominently displayed in her home. Since the United States Government considered Liberia to be a "hardship" post for those stationed there, it paid for vacations to Europe, and Polly and family were able to visit Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Portugal, Spain, Germany, Holland, England, Madeira and Canary Islands. It became a bit of a family tradition during their travels for Polly to collect ornamental tea spoons from each country visited while her daughters collected dolls and her son, toy cars. Those who knew Polly saw how her travels defined her and how she treasured the keepsakes collected from the places she visited

In 1972, Ted was transferred to Saigon, Vietnam. As it was the height of the Vietnam War, the family was stationed in Taipei, Taiwan. Polly quickly grew fond of the Orient and was able to visit China, Thailand and other Asian countries in later years. When the war drew to a close, Ted returned to the U.S. Immigration Service and accepted an assignment to a U.S.- Canadian border crossing near Babb, Montana, and the family took up residence in the back half of the building that served as the point of entry into the United States.

In 1974 she and Ted separated, and while en route to visit an old friend in Chicago, Polly stopped in Wahpeton to visit an acquaintance whom she met while on a Press Women's trip to Russia the previous year. Polly never left and Wahpeton became home for the next 42 years and the place where she raised her three (3) children. In 1986, she wed the most wonderful man, John Groneman, who indulged her passions and hobbies and cared for her tenderly and patiently in her final years.

Polly became a well-known fixture in Wahpeton through her various jobs and community activities. She worked at Minn-Dak Farmer's Cooperative and Rick's Electric and used her journalism skills writing for local publications. She served as the Director of Volunteer Services for St. Francis Hospital before embarking on a 20-year career as an astute, successful and trusted financial planner, first with IDS/American Express and then with INVEST. Polly served as president of the Greater Wahpeton Association, the Leach Library Arts Council and the Bois de Sioux Toastmasters Club and as chairman of the Riveredge Hospice Advisory Committee. She was the founder of the Twin Town Artist Series and a member of the Eagles Auxiliary. A voracious reader and a well-known collector of Rosemeade and other North Dakota pottery, Polly also served for many years as treasurer of the North Dakota Pottery Collectors Society.

In the early 1990's, Polly was diagnosed with lung cancer. Not surprisingly, her indomitable spirit enabled her to persevere. When told by the doctor at her 5-year checkup to declare her cancer free that when she had about a 5% survival chance when first diagnosed and that only 1% of all patients could have tolerated the levels of chemotherapy she endured, she replied, "What choice did I have?" That was Polly.

Polly and John enjoyed traveling and spending time at East Battle Lake, Minnesota tending their garden and refinishing antique furniture. Polly's hobby was collecting – collecting anything collectible. Early on it was stamps and coins. In Liberia while her children swam at the beach, she loved to sift through the surf in search of agates, which she would take home, polish and turn into jewelry. She collected glassware, china, silverware, dolls, books, Saturday Evening Post and National Geographic magazines, McDonalds Happy Meal and other toys and Rosmeade pottery, which she enjoyed buying and selling (well, mostly buying) on eBay. Polly never passed on an opportunity to stop at a garage sale, flea market or thrift shop and over the years she amassed quite a collection of "personal treasures," which she bequeathed to her lucky family.

Polly was a member of United Church of Christ, Wahpeton, and was a staunch Republican, dating back to her Arizona days when she worked on Barry Goldwater's 1964 campaign for President of the United States.

Polly came from modest beginnings at the end of the Great Depression, and was frugal throughout her life. Perhaps the greatest lessons she impressed upon her children were the value of a dollar, the value of an education, and the value of working hard, as she saved money for her future while seeing all three children through advanced college degrees. A single mother, she was strong, independent, and lived life on her own terms.

Polly will be at great peace knowing that her beloved sister, Lorraine, was able to sing her final goodbyes.

She is survived and will be deeply missed by her husband John; daughter Judy Benn (and granddaughter Maggie Mei), Bangkok, Thailand; son Ted Benn, Jr. and wife Sue (and grandchildren Davis, Parker and Ashton), Dallas, Texas; daughter Kristina Benn Kominek and husband Rick (and grandchildren Zane and Seth), Albuquerque, New Mexico; and stepdaughters Marla DeRosier, Brainerd, Minnesota and Melissa Groneman, Denver, Colorado She is also survived by her sister, Lorraine Bradford of Wilmington, Delaware.


Visitation

United Church of Christ
1202 Westmore Ave.
Wahpeton, ND

Saturday, March 19, 2016
9:30 AM - 10:30 AM

Service

United Church of Christ
1202 Westmore Ave.
Wahpeton, ND

Saturday, March 19, 2016
10:30 AM

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