Class of 1943
Robert W. Groves
Founded one of the nation’s first alcohol and drug information schools
Served as Director of Royal Oak Substance Abuse Program
Served with the Royal Oak and Huntington Woods Police
Played AAA baseball for the Chicago Cubs
Inductee, Royal Oak High School Hall of Fame, 1999
Robert W. Groves graduated from Royal Oak High School in 1943. One of the more gifted athletes in Dondero history, Bob earned nine letters as a member of the baseball, football and basketball teams. He joined the Marines after graduation and was engaged in heavy combat during World War II. After the war he played baseball for Michigan State University and the farm teams of the Chicago Cubs. His knowledge of baseball was later shared with Little Leaguers in Royal Oak and Madison Heights. His players included his son Mark and a young catcher named Bill Freehan.
In an interview with the Daily Tribune in 1976, Robert Groves shared the fact that he was an alcoholic and that his drinking had ruined his promising baseball career. The people of Royal Oak remember Bob Groves not for his failed baseball career, but rather for his personal victory over his disease and the inspiration he provided others.
Bob Groves was a law enforcement officer in Oakland county. In addition to saving several lives which were threatened by fires and accidents, he used his personal experiences and communication skills to counsel and save the lives of many people who were misusing drugs and alcohol. In the 1960's Robert Groves, and other members of the Royal Oak District Court probation department, established a formal program to provide information and counseling for offenders with drug and alcohol problems. Bob later served as the director of the Royal Oak Alcohol and Drug Abuse Center that was eventually named in his honor.
Robert Groves was a gifted educator. Although criminal offenders were actually sentenced to attend his mandatory classes, they often ended the eight week session voluntarily staying after class to drink coffee and continue their discussions. His vision of using compulsory education as part of a court punishment/rehabilitation program and its success in eliminating repeat offenders received national attention. The concept has been copied by many courts throughout the nation. The court program created by Bob, and implemented by another Royal Oak High School Hall of Fame inductee Judge Keith Leenhouts, was one of the major factors in the selection of Royal Oak as the 1967 All American City by Look magazine.
One event illustrates why Robert Groves was inducted into the ROHS Hall of Fame. At a Dondero-Kimball football game, Bob was given a standing ovation in recognition for being chosen Alumnus of the Year. Bob then saw a youth apparently under the influence of drugs or alcohol. He left his friends to go to the aid of the youth. His friends called him back protesting that, "Bob, you can't go. This is your night!" Bob turned to them and replied, "I have to go. This is my life." Robert Groves was inducted into the Royal Oak High School Hall of Fame in 1999.