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Gerard T. Groeninger, 67, coach for youth sports, systems analyst

Gerard T. Groeninger, a retired systems analyst who coached dozens of youth sports teams, died of melanoma Thursday - his 38th wedding anniversary - at his Towson home. He was 67.

Known to family and friends as Jerry, Mr. Groeninger was a sports enthusiast who passed on his love of athletics to his three children and to hundreds of others who played on the soccer, lacrosse and ice hockey teams that he led, relatives said.

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Over the years, he coached at least 100 teams - often two or three a season, they said.

"My father was everybody's playmate," said his daughter Mary Kay Nabit of Baltimore.

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Every winter when his children were growing up, Mr. Groeninger would use plastic sheeting, wood and a few inches of water to build a backyard ice rink, complete with music and spotlights for nighttime skating.

"Everybody in the neighborhood would give us their ice skates when they grew out of them, so we had a whole wall of ice skates like you would rent," said another daughter, Annie Groeninger of Bellingham, Wash. "Anyone who came to our house could find a pair of skates that fit or nearly fit.

"Mom would make hot chocolate and popcorn. We'd break up the ice time so the guys could play some hockey and the girls could do figure skating. We didn't have a Zamboni, though."

In summer, Mr. Groeninger converted the rink into a Wiffle ball field.

Mr. Groeninger grew up in Baltimore's Govans neighborhood, the son of a postal worker and a homemaker. His mother died when he was in his 20s, and his father subsequently married the nurse who had tended to his dying wife.

Mr. Groeninger remained devoted to his stepmother, Rosalie Groeninger of Timonium, until the end of his life, visiting her every day until he was stopped by illness.

Mr. Groeninger attended Cathedral School and Calvert Hall College High School, where he was a standout in soccer and ice hockey.

He went on to the Johns Hopkins University on a soccer scholarship, earning a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1957.

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Fresh out of college, Mr. Groeninger took a job with Armco Steel Corp. He worked there for more than 30 years, until his retirement in 1992. He then joined Ewell Inc., an independent contractor for computer and telephone system maintenance.

Mr. Groeninger participated in team sports after he got out of school, playing amateur ice hockey for the Baltimore Junior Clippers and the Orchard Mercurys. He became serious about running in his late 30s and completed more than 20 marathons, including the Maryland, Harrisburg, Marine Corps and Boston events.

For many years, Groeninger coached in the Loch Raven Recreation Council soccer and lacrosse leagues. He also served as a coach for youth hockey programs at several area rinks.

For nearly 40 years, Mr. Groeninger was a member of the Roman Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception on Ware Avenue in Towson, where he would walk daily to 8 a.m. Mass. As a volunteer there, he scheduled lectors and eucharistic ministers. He regularly made meatloaf for the soup kitchen Our Daily Bread.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. today at Immaculate Conception.

In addition to his daughters and stepmother, Mr. Groeninger is survived by his wife, the former Patricia Ennis; a son, Tom Groeninger of London; a sister, Margaret Lee Schatz of Waldorf; a brother, Robert M. Groeninger of Staatsburg, N.Y.; and two grandsons.


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