Aerial view of the Dowagiac campus

SMC graduate takes service a step further for grandma, son

03/14/2019 - 11am
Terry Groth

Terry Groth, Southwestern Michigan College Class of 2002, joined the Dowagiac Board of Education for the same reason which inspires his other community-minded endeavors.

“I just want to make a difference,” said Groth, 37, who has served on SMC Foundation’s board since 2015.

A member of Dowagiac Union High School’s Class of 2000, Groth lived in Paw Paw for nine years, but moved back to Silver Creek Township in 2016. In November 2018 school board balloting, Groth won a four-year term which will see him serving his alma mater through Dec. 31, 2022.

Service is second nature in his involved family, paced by his grandmother, Virginia Edgerly, until she died Aug. 18, 2017, at 92. She had been a 4-H leader for 60 years, including half a century as North Red Hill key leader. She was active in her church, volunteered for Cass County Hospice and Borgess-Lee Memorial Hospital, was celebrated as a “Hometown Hero” in 1993 and led the Cass County Fair parade as grand marshal.

“She was in Eastern Star and was a lifetime member of the Sheriff’s Posse. She set a strong example for my family,” he said. “I’ve taken it one step further” by seeking elective office, though a cousin served on Decatur’s school board.

“My mom (Betty) still volunteers at Kincheloe and did Five Star at the middle school. My aunt (Bonnie McCarthy) is key leader of our 4-H club. Another aunt is a strong part of the Van Buren County 4-H community. A cousin is Van Buren County Extension 4-H agent. I helped coach Rocket Football three seasons and Little League last year. I’ve been a member of Dowagiac’s Young Professionals, which SMC employees helped start, since I’ve been back. I’ve helped with three daddy/daughter dances and taken donations at fireworks.”

He and his wife, Lisa, a 2004 SMC nursing graduate, celebrate four years of marriage March 28, though they’ve known each other since 4-H, when he showed horses and still exhibits.

His son, Hayden, attends sixth grade at Dowagiac Middle School. “I want to show my son a good example,” said Groth, who played football and track for the Chieftains and belonged to National Honor Society and Varsity Club. He was a dual-enrolled DUHS student when he started at SMC.

“The college will always hold a special place for me,” Groth said. “My wife’s a nurse who graduated from here, which helped her career path. She’s the quality director for InterCare Community Health Network in Bangor.” The Groths contributed to the foundation’s campaign for the expanded nursing building and attended its January opening.

Groth supervises mechanical design engineering at AEP’s Donald C. Cook Nuclear Plant in Bridgman, though his office is in Buchanan.

From SMC, Groth transferred to Western Michigan University and earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 2005, then a master’s degree in engineering management. In October 2010 he added his professional engineer’s license by successfully completing an eight-hour exam.

“My goal at Western was to design engines for the automotive industry,” he said. “Math came easy to me.” He considered becoming an accountant, architect or chef. He still likes cooking and baking.

Groth was among the first physics students Andrew Dohm taught after using his engineering training as a Chrysler Corp. production supervisor. “When I was at Western I’d come back to see him and Dr. (Keith) Howell,” Groth said. “Later, I’d come talk to (Dohm’s) classes. They made trips a couple of years in a row” to tour the Palisades nuclear power plant near Covert where Groth worked for more than 11 years until joining Cook in 2016.