Warren D. Grover, 84, child-neurology pioneer

Dr. Warren D. Grover
Dr. Warren D. Grover
Posted: February 11, 2013

Dr. Warren D. Grover, 84, who began his medical career as a Cherry Hill pediatrician and ended it as a nationally revered pioneer in child neurology with three decades of seminal work at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in Philadelphia, died Monday, Jan. 28, in Hilton Head, S.C.

When Dr. Grover retired at 70, he was director of child neurology, a department created under his aegis in 1978. After living 41 years in Moorestown, he and his wife, Constance, moved to South Carolina for the sun, golf, and relaxation that had eluded him as a driven, in-demand specialist.

Soon after settling in, he learned he had Alzheimer's disease. Through his decline, his wife said, he was never without a medical journal in his lap.

In 2011, he was given the National Child Neurology Society's lifetime achievement award. In a tribute to his mentor, Dr. James J. Riviello Jr., director of pediatric neurology at New York University, recalled how Dr. Grover "tirelessly provided exceptional care to children" whose afflictions ranged from survivable to "life-threatening or exceedingly rare."

He was, Riviello said, "a master of every subspecialty in child neurology."

No surprise, parents from all over the country brought their ailing children to Dr. Grover. Raised in Mount Holly, he had not medicine but football on the mind while playing as an end for Mount Holly High School. Later named Rancocas Valley Regional, the school inducted him into its Football Hall of Fame.

After graduation in 1947, he enrolled in Bucknell University, Lewisburg, where he received a bachelor's degree in 1951; then in Temple University Medical School, Class of 1955.

He interned at Philadelphia General Hospital, and in 1956 went into the Navy. The next two years were spent delivering babies at the Camp LeJeune, N.C., base hospital.

Discharged and back in Philadelphia, he did a three-year pediatric residency, then went into private practice in Cherry Hill. In two years, though, Dr. Grover was champing at the bit to do more.

"He was most interested in research, and would have been in school until he was 84," said his wife, whose return to teaching meant he could indulge his academic appetite.

In 1967, after a three-year residency in child neurology, he joined St. Christopher's neurology program as its first board-sanctioned child neurologist. Or, as his wife put it, his "first real paying job."

By 1976, Dr. Grover had rocketed through the academic ranks from an assistant professor to professor of pediatrics and neurology. Two years later, he was head of the new child neurology department.

A fortress of self-discipline, he worked from 7 in the morning to 7 in the evening, at least six days a week. Every night he put in two hours of study.

On Saturdays, he met with support groups he started for his patients' parents.

Some of his seminal work was in mitochondrial disorder, a dysfunction of the "powerhouse" part of every cell, and Menkes disease, a genetic defect that impedes the body's ability to absorb copper.

He grew close to those children who were afflicted, for their lives were sure to be short.

For a Perkasie boy named Jimmy Dean, Dr. Grover helped start a 5K fund-raising run. In 1985, when Jimmy turned 13 - surpassing all expectations - the other Jimmy Dean showed up to help celebrate. The boy would survive to 17.

Dr. Grover faced the possibility of his own demise when, in his 50s, he was diagnosed with cancer, histiocytic lymphoma of the thyroid. He underwent weekly chemotherapy for eight months, and radiation for seven. By scheduling it for late Fridays, he could be at work Mondays.

  When he turned 68, colleagues feted Dr. Grover's so-called retirement. He only cut back to three days a week, though, and filled the remaining empty time by giving expert testimony in lawsuits.

When he turned 70, his wife insisted, "It's time to go."

Surviving, in addition to his wife of 60 years, is a daughter, Alison; sons, Christopher, Joel, and Timothy; six grandchildren; a great-grandson; and sister.

A "celebration of life" service will be held at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, at Sea Island Presbyterian Church in Beaufort, S.C.

Donations may be made to the National Alzheimer's Association, P.O. Box 96011, Washington, D.C. 20090; St. Christopher's Hospital for Children Mitochondrial Program, 3601 A Street, Philadelphia, Pa. 19134; Sea Island Presbyterian Church, 81 Lady's Island Drive, Beaufort, S.C. 29907; or First Presbyterian Church, 101 Bridgeboro Rd., Moorestown, N.J. 08057.

Contact Kathleen Tinney at 610-313-8106.

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