Groner, Frank Shelby (1877–1943)

By: Rosalie Beck

Type: Biography

Published: January 1, 1995

Frank Shelby Groner, Baptist administrator and author, was born on January 3, 1877, in Collin County, the son of William Christopher and Cleopatra Clementine (Dunnegan) Groner. As a small boy he decided to be a lawyer. He studied at North Texas Baptist College in Jacksboro and received an M.S. in 1896 before going to the University of Texas law school. He passed the bar exam in 1900 and was county attorney for Jack County from 1900 to 1904. In 1903 he and Laura Virginia Wyatt were married; they had seven children. Groner practiced law until 1905, then entered the ministry as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Stamford and was ordained. He became pastor of the Columbus Avenue Baptist Church in Waco in 1911 and served until 1918.

In 1916 he became the first chairman of the Southern Baptist Hospital Commission. Under his leadership the commission raised funds to build Hillcrest Baptist Hospital in Waco and the Southern Baptist Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana. In 1918 Groner became executive secretary of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, which was experiencing a severe postwar financial depression. Between 1918 and 1928 he led the convention out of debt and introduced money-saving programs at the executive level through the Finance Committee of the Executive Board and the Budget Control Committee, which he founded. He also founded the Baptist Student Division and the Department of Evangelism.

While deeply involved with the BGCT, Groner accepted the directorship of the Southern Baptist Convention's nationwide fund-raising effort, the $75 Million Campaign, in Texas. He organized the Cash Roundup of 1920 to aid in the campaign. The goal for Texas was $15 million, and Groner achieved a final subscription of $12 million despite the opposition of J. Frank Norris, who objected to the cooperation of Southern Baptists in raising money for missions. Groner also wrote religious tracts, including The Witness of Great Minds to Christian Verities, Christian Education, and Our Sainted Loved Ones.

From 1928 to 1942 he was president of the College of Marshall (later East Texas Baptist University). His gift for fiscal development enabled him to direct the buying of additional land and buildings for the growing college in 1934. Under his aegis, the College of Marshall tripled its appraised value and became financially sound. Because of his outstanding work at Marshall and with the Baptist General Convention, he was awarded honorary doctorates by Howard Payne College (now Howard Payne University) and Baylor University. Groner retired from the College of Marshall in 1942. He was a Democrat and a Mason. He died on November 8, 1943, in Marshall.

Annual of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, 1943. Robert A. Baker, The Blossoming Desert-A Concise History of Texas Baptists (Waco: Word, 1970). Florence Elberta Barns, Texas Writers of Today (Dallas: Tardy, 1935). James Milton Carroll, A History of Texas Baptists (Dallas: Baptist Standard, 1923). Dallas Morning News, November 9, 1943. Joseph Martin Dawson, A Century with Texas Baptists (Nashville: Broadman, 1947). L. R. Elliott, ed., Centennial Story of Texas Baptists (Dallas: Baptist General Convention of Texas, 1936). Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists (4 vols., Nashville: Broadman, 1958–82). Who Was Who in America, Vol. 2.


  • Education
  • University Presidents and School Administrators
  • Religion
  • Baptist

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Rosalie Beck, “Groner, Frank Shelby,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed November 28, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1995