Kittie Nash Groce was the only daughter of William and Ina Nash. William was a very successful rancher in Brazoria County with a ranch just outside of West Columbia, Texas. Because of his success, Ina and Kittie lived in Houston and visited the ranch on occasion. Kittie was educated in Houston as well as baptized and confirmed at Christ Church Episcopal Cathedral. As a young lady, she traveled with her mother to Europe and was a frequent visitor to New York City.
On December3, 1909, Kittie married Browning Groce, a Galveston banker. He died two years later (1911) and there were no children born in this marriage. Kittie continued to live mostly in Houston, traveling extensively while the ranch remained very profitable under her father's control.
In 1929, the Great Depression occurred and in March, 1930, her father died. Kittie and her mother then made the decision to move to the ranch permanently and Kittie decided she would now run the ranch. She knew very little about ranching and discovered that the ranch was deeply in debt. She was a quick learner- questioning everyone about running a ranch and after her mother died in 1933, she was described by a reporter from Houston as "the biggest rancher in Brazoria County who wears pants, lipstick, and rouge." By 1940, she had made the ranch very profitable again.
Like her father, she remained miserly (eating turtle soup, the road kill on County Road 25, otherwise called Nash Road, and wore her father's clothes), calculating (attending every cattle sale to make sure the sale barn did not cheat her and always carrying two cattle hides to pay for the gas to the sale) and shrewd (she had many friends in the Houston oil business and encouraged them to drill for money even though she knew all they would get were dry holes). She was famous for speeding up and down "her road" (CR 25) in her pink Cadillac in her frequent trips to Houston for dancing and showing off her dresses maintaining her status as a Houston socialite.
Kittie Nash Groce was not only remembered for her shrewd business sense and success as a rancher, but she was also very civic minded. “Through her support and generosity” she “made many lasting contributions to her community”, West Columbia. (Appreciation Dinner speech) She generously supported both the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts providing funds to establish the Boy Scout Hut and Girl Scout Little House. She was one of the founders of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church making very large contributions which allowed the church and Kittie Nash Groce Parish Hall to be built. Even after her death in 1957, her generosity continued with several monetary gifts to organizations special to her. Funds from her estate built the Kittie Nash Groce Memorial Rehabilitation Center in West Columbia, and through her endowment to St. Mary’s, the church is able to sponsor the West Columbia Elementary 5th graders to attend the Discovery Program, an environmental and leadership program at Camp Allen. As was said at the memorial appreciation dinner for Kittie Nash Groce, “There is hardly a person in West Columbia that has not benefited in some way from the gifts of Kittie Nash Groce.” (Appreciation Dinner speech)
Sources 1. Speech given at the Kittie Nash Groce Appreciation Dinner on May 3, 1958