Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 7 January 2018

A Brief Life


Today — 7 January 2018 — would have been my father’s 100th Birthday !

A Brief Life of Grover Proctor

Young DadGrover Belmont Proctor, Sr. was born on January 7, 1918 in Edgecombe County, North Carolina. Family stories say that the names “Grover” and “Belmont” were suggested to his parents by a neighbor lady, Mrs. Taylor, a widow who lived with her adult son John next door to the Proctors. Unfortunately, there is no record as to why she chose those names. Regardless of its origin, Daddy always made it quite plain that he really disliked the name “Grover,” and he did whatever he could to avoid being called by it. He had his nieces and nephews call him “Uncle Proctor” instead of “Uncle Grover,” and when he answered his phone at work, he always said, “Proctor speaking.”

Daddy was born and lived the first seven years of his life on a 49-acre farm his mother had inherited from her family. Located at the west end of Trap Range Road, the farm was inside a triangle of Rocky Mount, Tarboro, and Wilson, NC, and it prospered as a tobacco farm that also had abundant fruit trees. His father built what Daddy’s oldest sibling called a “pretty house” across the street from the farm. It had carbide lights and other amenities that few people in that area had at the time. Unfortunately, that “pretty house” is no longer standing.

The Proctor Siblings

Grover (at right) with his three siblings,
photographed on the family farm.

When Daddy was seven years old, in 1925, his parents sold their farm, and the family resettled first in Lee County, and they later moved down the road to Moncure in Chatham County. Daddy graduated in 1935 from Moncure High School, after which he went to work for the Seaboard Coastline Railroad. When World War II broke out, he would have had every expectation of being drafted, but his work for the railroad was considered by the government as “vital” to the war effort, and so his draft eligibility was deferred.

Ruth, Grover, and Janie Proctor

Ruth, Grover, and Janie Proctor

By 1943, the 25-year-old Grover was working as a clerk in the Railroad Depot in Apex, North Carolina. Sometime in late May of that year, a mutual friend introduced him to Edna Ruth Hooks, an 18-year-old recent graduate of Apex High School. It must have been something akin to love at first sight, as six weeks later, on July 11, they were married. One of his distant cousins, the soon-to-be-7-year-old Janie Proctor (see photo) was their Flower Girl. (I’ve written elsewhere brief re-tellings of their engagement and wedding ceremony and about Daddy’s life at and before the time of his wedding.)

The following year, on April 3, 1944, he enlisted in the Army at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Speaking of the day my mother put him on the bus that took him off to basic training, she would say decades later, “I’ve never been more proud of him than I was that day.” Daddy served in the Army from April 1944 to November 1945, when he was honorably discharged with the rank of Pfc.

The Golden Acorn patch from Pfc Proctor's uniform

The Golden Acorn patch from Pfc Proctor’s uniform

After induction and (probably) boot camp at Fort Bragg and Clerk School at Fort Riley, Kansas, he was transferred to Camp Howze, near Gainesville, Texas. Camp Howze was one of the largest of several infantry replacement training centers the Army constructed to accommodate the large number of new soldiers needed for deployment in Europe and the Pacific. Daddy left the States on December 12, 1944, and arrived in Europe (probably France) on December 20, where he was assigned to Company “F” (2nd Battalion), 345th Regiment of the 87th Infantry (“Golden Acorn”) Division.

Daddy participated in the Ardennes (Battle of the Bulge) and Rhineland (Siegfried Line) Campaigns. After fighting through Hitler’s infamous “Bulge,” Daddy’s battalion pushed through to the German border. By February of 1945, they were in position just a short way from the supposedly impenetrable Siegfried Line. On February 6 (his wife’s, my mother’s 20th birthday), Daddy’s F Company led the charge into the Line, and within a few short hours, had successfully breached it. The 2nd Battalion was awarded the much-coveted Presidential Unit Citation for

“extraordinary heroism, savage aggressiveness and indomitable spirit — in the face of extremely difficult terrain, fanatical enemy resistance, and devastating artillery fire — brilliant tactical planning, rapid capture of assigned objectives and the conspicuous gallantry of each member of the 2nd Battalion, in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service.”

Daddy also was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.

Daddy in WWII

Having broken through into Germany, they pushed toward the city of Olzheim, which had such tactical and strategic advantage that General George Patton specifically ordered Daddy’s 345th Regiment to capture it. Daddy later told my mother that on that day, he had taken the point of the march (that is, he was in the lead), and he was shot and critically wounded in the upper left arm (inches away from his heart) as they came up over a ridge. He fell and lay in the deep snow for nine hours before being found and rescued. He was later told that, had he not fallen in snow, which stanched the bleeding, he would have died long before he was found. After a long recuperation in Luxembourg, England, and finally the Veterans Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, he was discharged from the Army on November 19, 1945. (I have elsewhere written in greater detail about Daddy’s service in World War II.)

Daddy portraitAfter the War, Mother and Daddy moved to Raleigh, and from 1949 to 1960, he worked as a Cost Accountant and Warehouse Manager for Peden Steel. During that time, I was born in 1951. When they were thinking about names, Mother said that if she had a boy, she wanted him to be “Grover Jr.” But because he disliked his given name so much, Daddy was strongly opposed to the idea. As was usual in their marriage, Mother won — but with a compromise. Daddy said he would agree, just so long as I wouldn’t actually be called “Grover.” So, for the first 10 years of my life, I was known as “G.B.”

Daddy began to feel strongly that he was being called into the Christian Ministry, and so he went back to school, enrolling at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1960. Finances and other problems prevented his completing this goal, but he remained a quiet but strong member of the Faith. Later he worked in Management at Richmond (Virginia) Steel Company, as Business Manager for the Methodist Home for Children in Raleigh, and finally, as the accountant for Federal funds at the Wake County Public Schools.

Daddy's grave footmarker

As a result of his injury during the war and some experimental surgery that went bad, Daddy was in almost constant, often debilitating pain the rest of his life. Not only did the wound to his arm severely restrict its strength and movement, the Military doctors who performed post-injury surgery on him tried a new technique for nerve repair and regeneration. Not only did it fail and leave him in severe pain, but also many surgeries in subsequent years determined that the original, flawed “repair” was irreversible. The pain finally got so bad in his late 50s that he was unable to continue to work, and he was forced to retire. I still boil with anger at the shabby, irresponsible, callous treatment I observed Daddy receive from the Veterans Administration after his discharge from the Army — in all aspects (administrative, veterans benefits, and medical). To me, the (mis)treatment with which we dishonor Veterans like my father should be a criminal offense.

When my mother met Daddy in 1943 (he was 25 years old), she said he was already a heavy smoker, and unfortunately, he remained one all the rest of his life. He developed lung cancer in the early 1980s, and he died from it June 22, 1982. He is buried next to Mother and among her family in Apex Cemetery in Apex, NC.

I love you and miss you, Daddy!

Mother and Daddy, in a portrait from the late 1940s

Mother and Daddy, in a portrait from the late 1940s


The sepia-toned photo of the young Daddy, the wedding photo that includes the Flower Girl, the photo of Pfc Proctor sitting on the “Keep Off” sign, and the formal portrait of my parents were all restored and (in 3 cases) colorized at my request by Asheville, NC photo-artist Melanie Bevill Arrowood. Beautiful work, as always, Melanie!





  1. Wonderful tribute to your parents!

  2. Enjoyed reading that. Thanks for cutivating a culture of honor. Love to Adrienne.

    God’s best to you, Kevin Guigou Christian Family Fellowship


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