Frederick Albert “Fred” Groth
Born in Madison, Wisconsin on July 8th, 1931
Departed on November 23rd, 2019 and resided in Denver, Colorado
- Celebration of Life: Double Tree by Hilton Hotel
Friday December 6th, 2019 3:00 pm
Described by other prospectors as a legend in the uranium exploration industry, Fred never really retired. Until his death, Fred was always dreaming of and searching for the next big prospect and he may well still be working out where to drill the next test hole …
Born in Madison, Wisconsin, Fred grew up in Cheyenne, Wyoming with his brothers, Duane and Darrol Groth, the children of Leslie Albert and Anna Marie (Henninger) Groth. Fred graduated with a B.S.from the University of Wyoming in 1953 and immediately went to work for the fledgling Atomic Energy Commission. He returned to UW, earning his masters in geology in 1955, while still working for the AEC.
In 1955, he was recruited by Kerr-McGee Corporation, a pioneer in the uranium industry, to participate in the Grants, New Mexico uranium mining boom. Daughter Susan Marie Wilde, now of El Cerrito, California, was born soon after. Frequently driving dirt roads on the Navajo Reservation while staking claims, Fred was nicknamed “the Roadrunner” by the locals.
Kerr-McGee moved Fred to Casper, Wyoming to participate in the claims staking rush in the Western US. This move brought Nancy Katherine Groth, now of Washington, D.C., and Daniel Frederick Groth, now of Denver, Colorado, into the fold. While in Casper, Fred was instrumental in the discovery of the Shirley Basin uranium deposits in Wyoming –some of the largest deposits located in the United States.
Fred and family were ultimately moved to Oklahoma City, where Fred was promoted to manager of uranium exploration for Kerr-McGee in 1965, managing its mineral exploration program until July of 1969. In order to give daughter Nancy educational opportunities not available in Oklahoma City, Fred moved his family back to Denver. In Denver, Fred was recruited to organize uranium development for The Colorado Corporation as a vice president. While at The Colorado Corporation, Fred was instrumental in the discovery of the Lost Soldier uranium deposit: one of the last uranium production facilities still operating in the US.
In May of 1971, Fred married the love of his life, partner and wife of 48 years, Janice (Jarnigan) Groth, and they began their adventures. Fred “went independent” in September of 1971 and, over the next 48 years, developed a number of uranium projects in Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota, which were sold to major utilities and mining companies. Along the way, he got to “prospector” on gold projects in British Columbia. During his long and storied career, Fred mentored many young geologists, instilling in them his love of exploration through his unique leadership style: throwing a ball in front of the puppies and letting them chase it.
But Fred was not all work and no play. He loved cooking, fly fishing, snow skiing, and traveling. Fred’s green chili and his sauerbrauten were world renowned, as was his exuberant hospitality – cooking and serving large parties of people. He and Jan circled the world several times – on safari in Africa, boating in Myanmar, snorkeling in Hawaii, taking the train from Singapore to Bangkok. In all of their travels, Fred never met a stranger. He loved Jan, his children – Susan, Nancy and Fred (Dan) – and his six grandsons – Evan Green, Andrew Wilde-Price, Fred Blasdel, Bob Blasdel, Gaines Blasdel, and Zach Groth – as well as his surviving brother, Darrol, and his numerous nieces and nephews, beyond measure.
Always generous and eternally optimistic, Fred was a force of nature. As full of unbridled energy as the mineral he pursued, Fred’s half-life may have expired, but his love of life, and of Jan and his family, will forever endure.
Join us for a celebration of Fred’s life on Friday, December 6, 2019, at 3 pm at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel, 13696 East Iliff Place, Aurora, CO.
Memorials in honor of Fred may be made to the following:
By Gaines Blasdel – Nancy’s youngest son:
Yesterday my mother’s father, my Grandpa Fred passed away. He was the son of a postal worker, a lifelong geologist, a chili aficionado, and a sweet, affectionate, loving man. I have such gratitude and pride about getting to branch his tree. Somehow in 1960’s Colorado and Oklahoma he knew the right thing to do was to fight like hell for his daughter’s chance to be taken seriously, to actualize her potential in the world, and to be the kickass woman who raised me. In a place where disability was a pitiable problem to be fixed, he told the orthopedic surgeons they’d have to cut through him in order to do unnecessary corrective surgeries they thought would get my mother closer to approximating able-bodied movement. In a time when people with disabilities were put in institutions, he fought for her to be in mainstream (“regular”) school, something that was a completely unfathomable movement of resources and minds to accomplish. That advocacy is just one example of many times in which he did the right thing when it was inconvenient and unpopular. You don’t need a social justice education to listen to your heart and fight oppression and injustice wherever it can be found. He just got it, and he just did it. In this news clipping from People magazine 1976 he’s misquoted – he actually kept telling the reporter “It’s her story, not mine.” I hope to grow into that kind of integrity for the rest of my days.