A memorial service to celebrate the life of longtime steeplechase official Stephen Pitcher Groat will be held Saturday, Jan. 5 at 2:30 p.m. at the Aiken Steeplechase course in Aiken, S.C. He died Tuesday, Dec. 11, after a long and courageous battle against cancer at age 67.
A resident of Aiken since the 1980s, he had a long and distinguished involvement with steeplechase racing that extended until the last month of his life. A senior steward of the National Steeplechase Association, he served as the presiding steward at the Colonial Cup Races in Camden, S.C., on Nov. 17.
In recognition of his contributions to the sport, he was awarded the National Steeplechase Association’s highest honor, the F. Ambrose Clark Award, in 2004.
In addition to his duties as a racing official, he was a designer of steeplechase racecourses. He designed the turf-only course at Dueling Grounds Race Course, now Kentucky Downs, and served as the steeplechase racing director for the inaugural Dueling Grounds meet in April 1990.
A native of Indianapolis, he was an accomplished horseman who trained with the U.S. Olympic equestrian team and served as master of the Aiken Hounds. Among his civic activities, he served on the board of directors of STAR Riding, a therapeutic riding program.
In 2005, he and his wife of 44 years, Jeannie, founded the Aiken Bluegrass Festival, which serves as a fundraiser for STAR and brought world-class bluegrass musicians to Aiken. Steve Groat was also an avid fly fisherman and the longest standing member of the Aiken Tennis Club.
Son of the late William A. and Mary L. Groat, he was educated at Aiken Preparatory School, where he later returned to teach; Millbrook School in Millbrook, N.Y.; and Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio. He most recently worked as a financial adviser for Morgan Keegan.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by three daughters, Avery Hammett of Aiken, Annie Groat of Kensington, Md., and Molly Schaumann of Aiken; six grandchildren; brothers Jonathan Groat of Fayetteville, N.Y., and Geoffrey Groat of Georgetown, S.C.; and a sister, Kate Henchmen of Concord, Mass. He was preceded in death by his twin brother, Andrew S. Groat, of Columbia, S.C.
A memorial service is being planned for Jan. 5, 2013. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Aiken Bluegrass Festival, c/o STAR Riding, P.O. Box 698, Aiken, S.C. 29802.