Linda Grover, 76

Linda Grover, 76, dies; conceived Global Family Day

Linda Grover conceived of Global Family Day, previously known as OneDay, in the 1970s.
Linda Grover conceived of Global Family Day, previously known as OneDay, in the 1970s. (Kevin Clark/the Washington Post)
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By Patricia Sullivan
Thursday, February 25, 2010

Linda Grover, 76, who devoted more than 10 years to establishing Jan. 1 as a worldwide day of peace, died Feb. 20 of uterine and ovarian cancer at the Washington Home and Community Hospices.

Global Family Day, recognized by the U.S. Congress, the U.N. General Assembly and scores of heads of state, encourages people to share meals, pledge nonviolence and celebrate by ringing a bell or beating a drum on the first day of each year.

"We live by the rhythms of our holidays," she told The Washington Post in 2002. "The quality of our holidays, or the meaning of our holidays, defines our individual cultures. And having no holiday that everyone shares means we're all out of step."

Hence, Global Family Day, which she conceived when her own children, growing up in the 1970s, talked about how all the people in the world would surely come together on the first day of 2000 to live in peace and harmony.

Ms. Grover wrote a utopian novel, "Tree Island" (1995), on the topic and organized a 1998 meeting in Oregon's Cascade Mountains of 50 millennium groups. At the same time, schoolchildren around the world began to agitate for a global day of nonviolence and no hunger. Steve Diamond and Robert Silverstein's children's book, "One Day in Peace, January 1, 2000," also appeared in 22 languages.

Ms. Grover, whose colorful background included stints as a TV soap opera writer, boating magazine founder and international caseworker, went to work in Washington, where she also had once been a legislative aide and subcommittee clerk. Six members of the House of Representatives, most prominently John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio), and six members of the Senate, including Paul D. Wellstone (D-Minn.) and Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), joined up in 2001 and 2006 to pass a resolution recognizing the day.

Although Global Family Day, previously known as OneDay, hasn't yet made it on to calendars as Kwanzaa or Grandparents' Day have, Ms. Grover counseled patience. It took 42 years for Mother's Day to build momentum and 31 years for all the states to officially celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, she noted.

"Peace is like Carnegie Hall," she said. "If you want to get there, you've got to practice."

Linda Rauskolb was born in Nashua, N.H., and raised in a military family. In 1949, she graduated from high school in Las Vegas, where she was named Helldorado Queen, winning the local beauty pageant. She moved to Washington to work for Rep. Sam Yorty (D-Calif.) and later became clerk of the House's subcommittee on Indian affairs. On a dare, she water-skied in the Tidal Basin, wearing only a leopard-print bikini, one New Year's Day during this period.

In 1956, she married a Broadway actor and singer, and moved to New York.

Living in an apartment building at 325 Central Park West, she fought a seven-year battle with the city to stop a condemnation, eviction and demolition. Staging a "seven-story dinner," she invited city officials and the news media to hear the reasons why the 20 families there wanted to buy the building and turn the apartments into co-ops, which they eventually did. In 1970, she published a book about the effort, "The House Keepers," which was serialized in the New York Post.

Ms. Grover found work in New York as a taxi driver, restaurant reviewer and cook before she was hired to write for soap operas. She became head writer for NBC's "The Doctors," CBS's "Search for Tomorrow" and ABC's "General Hospital," and co-wrote "Looking Terrific" (1978), a best-selling book on women's images, and "August Celebration" (1993) on blue-green algae as a nutrient.

She lived overseas, in Key West, Fla., and on the West Coast, where she was a key organizer of southern Oregon's unsuccessful bid to host the 1988 Winter Olympics.

She returned to Washington in 1999 at the suggestion of the staff of Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) to lobby for a congressional resolution on her pet project. In 2008, she traveled to China to represent the Global Family Day congressional caucus as she tried to get the world's most populous nation fired up about the holiday.

In 2002, American Mothers named her "District of Columbia Mother of the Year" for her work. For the past 11 years, she worked out of her Capitol Hill apartment, collaborating with volunteers on how to make the next Jan. 1 even more peaceful .

Her marriages to Stanley Grover Nienstedt and John Porterfield ended in divorce.

Survivors include three children from her first marriage, Cindy Grover of Kauai, Hawaii, Steven Grover of Berkeley, Calif., and Jamie Grover of Santa Cruz, Calif.; a stepbrother, Bill Rauskolb of Wolfsburg, Germany; and two grandchildren.

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