Clare Groff Frantz, Jr.

By on August 23, 2010

Clare Groff Frantz, Jr., 95, of Sugar Grove, passed away at his home surrounded by the love and prayers of his family on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2010.

He was born Dec. 4, 1914, the son of Clare Groff Sr. and Eleanor S. (Tague) Frantz in Moorestown, N.J.

Groff lived in Chicago for a time. The family moved to Sugar Grove during the winter of 1925-26. Groff graduated from Sugar Grove High School with the class of 1934 and then joined the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and was stationed in Brule, Wis. A year later, he attended the University of Cincinnati.

Groff was united in marriage on June 4, 1939, to Jeanette Huggins and eventually welcomed home four children. They began their new life together in Hessville, Ind. Groff and Jeanette’s lives took separate paths in the fall of 1962, but he would be lucky in love once again when he met Ruth Boy Randall at a group called Parents Without Partners. They would soon have no need for the group when they joined their two families in October of 1963.

Groff served as a machinist apprentice at Youngstown Sheet and Tube in Hammond, Ind., eventually becoming a journeyman tool maker/ machinist just before WWII began. Groff received a deferment during war time and helped make engines for B-25 bombers in Chicago. Following the war, Groff and his then-growing family came back home to Sugar Grove and converted a local blacksmith shop into his own machine shop, complete with an upstairs apartment. In the late 1940s, Groff began working for many companies, including Argonne National Laboratory and Fermilab. Any time not spent at work was dedicated to Groff’s imagination, and the results were born in his shop, which was where he loved to be. For 95 years, Groff’s hands never slowed.

Groff was a member of the Lincoln Highway Association, the Contemporary Historical Vehicle Association and the Auroraland Auto Restorers Club, where he served as president. As a Mason, he was a member of the Jerusalem Temple Lodge, No. 90 in Aurora. Groff was also a lifetime member, past Sunday school teacher and drew up the plans for the Fellowship addition at the Sugar Grove United Methodist Church. He helped establish the first Boy Scout Troop 41 in Sugar Grove. He formed the Sugar Grove Historical Society around his dining room table. In addition, Groff was also Past Assistant Chief of the Volunteer Sugar Grove Fire Department.

Groff’s achievements and inventions were only limited to the scope of his imagination. His machines were ingenious, his labor intensive, and the results were numerous and one of a kind.

When the children were young, Groff and Jeanette vacationed at a cabin in Hayward, Wis., and later, when Groff and Ruth’s families became one, trips to the Upper Peninsula in Michigan became an annual ritual. At first, the family spent their time living in tents until a cabin was built and later re-built, becoming a haven for family retreats. Groff and Ruth also loved to travel around the country with friends through the CHVA and the Lincoln Highway Association in vintage cars and motorcycles. Groff also built a roadster from the frame up using a Crosley Station Wagon, and his son Cliff now owns and shows it at local car shows.

He is survived by his wife, Ruth, of Sugar Grove; nine children, Clifton G. (Lynne) Frantz of Batavia, Nancy C. Wilkison of Elburn, David S. (Vickie) Frantz of Sugar Grove, Steven J. Frantz of Sandwich, Mark J. (Beth) Randall of Plain City, Ohio, David L. (Kathy) Randall of Yorkville, Terry M. (Jim) Jensen of Aurora, Jane A. (Ken) Laurie of Elburn and Dwight C. (Monica) Randall of Woodstock; 20 grandchildren; 16 great-grandchildren; many nieces, nephews, cousins and a family of friends.

He is preceded in death by his parents; one brother, Thomas T. Frantz; and two grandsons, Curtis Groff Frantz and Jonathon Randall.

Visitation and a memorial service were held Monday, Aug. 23, at the Sugar Grove United Methodist Church, 176 Main St., Sugar Grove. The Rev. Steven Good, pastor of the church, officiated. Private family interment will follow at a later date.

In lieu flowers, a memorial has been established in his name to benefit the Sugar Grove Historical Society. Checks may be made to the “Sugar Grove Historical Society” and mailed in care of P.O. Box 102, Sugar Grove, IL 60554. Tributes may also be forwarded to the same address or online at