Frank Shelby Groner (1877-1943) was a lawyer, pastor of Baptist churches, chairman of the Southern Baptist Hospital Commission, executive secretary of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, director of fund-raising in Texas for the Southern Baptist Convention, founder of the Baptist Student Division and the Department of Evangelism, president of the College of Marshall, Texas (now East Texas Baptist University), and author of several religious books.
Frank Shelby Groner was born near the town of Weston, Texas in Collin County, Texas(subscription required) to William Christopher Groner and Cleopatra Clementine Dunnegan on January 7, 1877. His parents moved to Graham, Texas when he was three-years-old, where he started to preach by using a flat top trunk as a pulpit. Groner was the first-born of eight children, four boys and four girls. The family later removed to a farm in Jack County, Texas, where he attended school, where his father was the teacher, until he was fourteen.
He first attended the short-lived North Texas Baptist College in Jacksboro, Texas from the age of fourteen where he was awarded a Master of Science degree in 1896. His graduating thesis was on the subject of "The Evidence of Christianity as shown in Profane History".
Groner early settled on a career in law. Groner then studied at the University of Texas Law School. Groner was nominated as county attorney by the Jack County Democratic Society near the end of his second year in law school. He immediately took the bar exam. He passed the bar exam in 1900 and was elected as county attorney.
Groner then entered the Baptist ministry as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Stamford, Texas, where he was ordained in 1905 and was pastor for seven years. In the course of his pastorship, the existing church building became too small and a new building was built. The congregation increased in size from 147 to about 750 at the time of his departure.
Groner became the second pastor of the Columbus Avenue Baptist Church, in Waco, Texas in 1911, where he succeeded the Reverend R. G. Bowers, a position which he held until 1918, when he resigned to become Executive Secretary of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. The membership increased from less than 400 to nearly 1,200 during his ministry.
Groner was selected to head the Southern Baptist Hospital Commission in 1916. He was able to raise sufficient funds to found Hillcrest Baptist Hospital in Waco, Texas and the Southern Baptist Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana. In 1918, he was appointed executive secretary of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, which caused him to resign as pastor of the Columbus Avenue Baptist Church and relocate to Dallas, Texas. He served as executive secretary until June 1928. He is reported to have served "wisely and well".
Groner used his financial skills to greatly enlarge the College of Marshall by acquiring additional property and buildings.
Groner also found time in the course of his life to author several books on Christianity, including:
Groner met Miss Laura Virginia Wyatt while a student at North Texas Baptist College, where she also was a student. In 1903, Groner married Laura Virginia Wyatt of Cleveland County, Arkansas (1878-1951).
They had seven children.
Groner died in hospital at Marshall on November 8, 1943 at the age of 66 following a cerebral hemorrhage. A funeral service was held at Marshall, followed by a second funeral service at Waco, Texas. He was buried in Oakwood Cemetery at Waco.