Francis W. “Frank” Groves, longtime director of UW Center for Cooperatives, dies at 92

Francis W. “Frank” Groves passed away on Friday, Aug. 4 at Fern Glen Farm, the Groves’ family home since the 1860s. He was 92.

Born on June 16, 1925, Groves spent a hard-working but joyful childhood on the farm in Lodi, Wis. He joined the U.S. Army in 1946 and served in Occupied Japan. Upon his discharge in 1947, Frank attended the University of Wisconsin, earning his B.S. in Dairy Industry in 1951. While attending the University, Frank met the love of his life and lifelong companion, Shirley Jeffery, and they were married on Aug. 16, 1952. They raised three children, William “Bill”, Richard “Dick”, and Ann, and had adventures around the globe as they tirelessly pursued their passion for travel.

After several years working in the dairy industry, Frank returned to the UW, earning his M.S. and Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics and joining the faculty in 1961. In 1965-66, Frank was the head of a Dairy Marketing project for the National Commission on Food Marketing in Washington, D.C., after which he returned to UW-Madison. He was named Director of University Center for Cooperatives in 1970, a position he held until his retirement in 1989. Frank’s passion for the power of economic democracy led him to teach people around the world how to create their own cooperatives and improve their financial stability and potential. Throughout his career he won numerous awards for work with Cooperatives and being a leader in cooperative education nationally and internationally. Frank was a founding member and on the founding Board of Directors for Group Health Cooperative (GHC), and was a member of Alpha Gamma Rho, Phi Kappa Phi, Alpha Zeta, and Upsilon Sigma Phi.

Grateful for his childhood home, and recognizing what a beautiful and enduring legacy Fern Glen Farm could be, Frank placed most of the land into a conservation easement with the Ice Age Trail Alliance in 2011, thus ensuring that the Trail section and the land would be preserved in perpetuity for all to enjoy.

A celebration of Frank’s life will be held on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017, at the Lodi United Methodist Church, 130 Locust St., Lodi, at 3 p.m. Visitation will be from 1 p.m. until the time of the service.

For more about Groves’ life, please read his full obituary on