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Lt. Robert P. Grover Memorial Park: Lt. Robert P. Grover Memorial Park

Lt. Robert P. Grover Memorial Park - Images

Lt Robert P. Grover Memorial Park

This monument with its bronze memorial plaque is the focal point
of the Lieutenant Robert P. Grover Memorial Park
at the corner of Broadman Parkway and Kennedy Boulevard in Jersey City
Photo: P. Shalhoub, 2013

Lt Robert P. Grover Memorial Park

Deputy Jersey City Mayor William Flanagan and Fred Grover (brother of Robert) unveil the monument during the dedication ceremony held on May 11, 1952.
Source: Jersey Journal

Lt Robert P. Grover Memorial Park

Detail of bronze memorial to Lieutenant Robert P. Grover,
the first Jewish soldier to be killed in action from Jersey City in World War II
Photo: P. Shalhoub, 2013

Lt Robert P. Grover Grave Marker

Gravestone of Lt. Robert P. Grover
at Mt. Moriah Cemetery, Fairview, NJ, A30, Plot 94, Grave 6.
Photo: John Hallanan, 2014

Dickinson HS Yearbook Photo of Robert P. Grover

Robert P. Grover, 1934

Source: Detail from The Gnome,
The Yearbook of Dickinson High School 1934.

Courtesy, Jersey City Free Public Library

Dickinson HS Yearbook Photo of Robert P. Grover

Robert P. Grover's Senior Yearbook Photograph Source:
The Gnome, The Yearbook of Dickinson High School 1934.
Courtesy, Jersey City Free Public Library

Location: Lt Robert P. Grover Park

Lieutenant Robert P. Grover Park

Lieutenant Robert P. Grover Memorial Park
Northwest corner of Broadman Parkway and Kennedy Boulevard

The Lieutenant Robert P. Grover Memorial Park is located at the northwest corner of Broadman Parkway and John F. Kennedy Boulevard in Jersey City. It is one of numerous “pocket” parks found throughout the city. Slightly less than one hundred feet square, it lies in the shadow of Snyder High School across the street on Kennedy Boulevard.

The park features a fenced-in grassy area with several large shade trees. A pathway curves across the park connecting the Broadman Parkway entrance with another on Kennedy Boulevard. The Redstone Townhomes Neighborhood Association partnered with Jersey City and the SIM-P Planning and Architecture Group to develop a plan for improving and enhancing the park with new seating areas and floral plantings, making it more attractive and user-friendly.

Broadman Parkway officially opened in 1920. The surrounding lots soon became available for sale and residential development. Original plans called for several large brick apartment buildings fronting the western side of Kennedy Boulevard. These plans were never realized. In 1925, Henry Roth and Howard R. Cruse purchased the property. Cruse, a successful and civic-minded lawyer, chaired the committee responsible for the statue of Abraham Lincoln at the entrance to Jersey City's Lincoln Park. The future park site remained unimproved. When either purchased by or donated to the city, it became known as the State Teachers Triangle.

On May 11, 1952, the park opened, officially dedicated, and renamed in memory of Lt. Park. Its main feature is the memorial to honor Lieutenant Robert P. Grover, the first Jewish serviceman from Jersey City to die in combat during World War II. It was donated by Lt. Robert P. Grover Post #377 of the Jewish War Veterans of the United States. The white tall-fluted monument stands on a three-stepped base in the center of the park.  A bronze eagle once adorned the monument's pinnacle.  A single bronze plaque affixed to the monument's front bears the inscription: “This park dedicated to the memory of Lt. Robert P. Grover, the first of his faith from this city who gave his life in World War II fighting to preserve the American Way of Life and in honor of all others in this community who served their country. Sponsored by Lt. Robert P. Grover Post 377, Jewish War Veterans of the United States.”

Robert P. Grover was born in Jersey City on March 31, 1916. He was the middle child of James (Jacob) Adolph Grover and Pauline Lieberman Grover. James was born in Odessa, Russia, in 1886. At age thirteen, Grover emigrated with his parents and siblings and lived on the lower East Side of New York City. When James and Pauline married, they settled in Jersey City sometime before the birth of their first son, Frederick, in 1912. According to the 1918 Jersey City directory, Robert’s father ran his own printing business, The Grover Press, from a small shop at 85 Grant Avenue, near Jackson Avenue (now Dr. Martin Luther King Drive).

Robert "Bob" Grover attended Lincoln High School and graduated from Dickinson High School in 1934. His yearbook quotation, "When youth and pleasure meet, to chase the glowing hours with flying feet," is taken from Lord Byron's poem, "The Eve of Waterloo." The line refers to the British and Prussian soldiers enjoying themselves at an evening ball in Brussels, unaware of the imminent approach of Napoleon's troops. The caption below his senior-year photograph notes that he enjoyed playing basketball and had intended to pursue a college education at U.S.C.

Robert Grover was a young man with a bright future ahead of him. In 1940, he was 24 years old and had completed two years of college. Employed as a shoe salesman, he worked about 50 hours a week, earning approximately $1.50 an hour. He resided with his parents, grandmother, and younger brother, Murray (Morris). The four-story, brick apartment building at 185 Bergen Avenue, where the family lived, still stands on the west side of Bergen Avenue today, adjacent to the South District Police Precinct building.

The prospects for many young men of Grover’s generation were altered in the months following Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The United States declared war on Japan and officially entered World War II on the side of the Allied forces. Like many other American, motivated by duty and patriotism, he voluntarily enlisted in the Air Corps as an Aviation Cadet on December 30, 1941.

A critical part of the Allied offensive strategy was to undermine Germany’s ability to maintain its war machine. New Air Corps units were trained and equipped to destroy German military and industrial targets through intense aerial bombardment. The campaign was set to begin in May of 1942.

After completing his training as a bombardier in April 1943, Grover, now a 1st Lieutenant, was assigned to the 337th squadron of the 96th Bomb Group. On May 21, 1943, Lt. Grover was the bombardier on board a B-17 aircraft, flying over the North Sea toward the city of Emden, Germany, on a mission to destroy the submarine yards of that city. The ten-man crew was killed in action when their aircraft was shot down about 75 miles north of the Dutch coastline (Hallanan 2012).

Lt. Grover’s body washed ashore about a month later and was buried in the Netherlands. His remains were eventually returned to New Jersey in 1949. He now rests alongside his parents in Mt. Moriah Cemetery in Fairview, NJ (Hallanan 2012). The US Government recognized Lt. Grover's service and sacrifice. He was a recipient of both the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Purple Heart medal.

In May 2014, the Redstone Townhomes Neighborhood Association, founded in 2010, planted cherry trees and laid plaques for Jersey City soldiers killed in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: Rafael A. Nieves, Jr., and Pfc. Leroy Deronde III, Afghanistan, and Spec. Marion P. Jackson (Iraq) and were honored in a ceremony held in Grover Park.

Lieutenant Robert P. Grover Park - References

The Gnome, The Yearbook of Dickinson High School, 1934.
"Post Dedicates Grover Park in Greenville." Jersey Journal 12 May 1952.
"Fallen Jersey City Soldiers to Be Honored at Park Ceremony." Jersey Journal 30 May 2014.
Hallanan, John, January 12, 2013, "Lt. Robert Grover," e-mail to Patrick Shalhoub.
"Howard R. Cruse, 70, a Lawyer 49 Years." New York Times 2 July 1949.
U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989. "Jacob A. Grover." Jersey City, New Jersey City Directory, 1918. (accessed April 10, 2013).
U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1940. "Robert Grover." (accessed April 10, 2013).
U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946. "Robert Grover." (accessed April 10, 2013).
U.S., World War II Jewish Servicemen Cards, 1942-1947. "Robert Grover." (accessed April 10, 2013).
U.S. Headstone Applications for U.S. Military Veterans, 1925-1941. "Robert Grover." (accessed April 10, 2013).