In Memory: Grover C. Outland Jr. ’49B
Grover C. Outland Jr. ’49B died May 23, 2019, at age 91 in Onancock on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, a few miles from where his parents met as teachers before World War I.
After graduating from Norfolk’s Maury High School – where he was president of his class and a highly regarded lineman on the football team – he matriculated at the Institute July 10, 1945. A liberal arts major, he was a four-year member of the Glee Club and was a member of the Officer of the Guard Association as a 1st Class cadet.
He played football for two years (until a knee injury ended his gridiron days) under Allison “Pooley” Hubert, head coach, who was the quarterback for Alabama’s first national championship team in the 1926 Rose Bowl. During Outland’s first season, the team, led by its rat quarterback Bobby Thomason ’49B, upset North Carolina State and Vanderbilt and also beat VPI (now Virginia Tech), the University of Richmond and Emory & Henry.
As the Institute was still on its accelerated wartime schedule when he matriculated, Outland graduated in January 1949 with the Class of ’49B. He then entered Washington and Lee University’s law school midsemester in February 1949. The Korean War began June 25, 1950, and Outland received orders for active duty in April 1951. He obtained permission to delay reporting until he graduated from law school in late August 1951.
In September 1951, he reported to the 235th Field Artillery Observation Battalion at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin. The unit was commanded by Lt. Col. Salvo Rizza. In his remarks to the Corps and VMI family when he received the VMI Foundation Distinguished Service Award in November 2008, Outland recalled what occurred when he reported: “[Lt. Col. Rizza] reviewed my 201 file and then said, ‘I see you graduated from VMI.’ To which I replied, ‘Yes, sir.’ With that he said, ‘I don’t have to tell you a thing. One of the finest officers I served with in World War II was a VMI graduate. Now go out there and give them hell.’ Accordingly, I did just that.”
In fall 1952, Outland’s active duty commitment and time as the executive officer of the battalion’s Battery C were about to conclude, and his thoughts turned toward opening a law office in Norfolk. However, the battalion received orders for service in Korea, and the battery’s senior noncommissioned officers, as a group, appealed to him in person to deploy with the unit. He agreed and served with the battery in Korea until it returned to the United States in August 1953. Outland always said that his senior NCOs’ stated faith in his ability to minimize the loss of soldiers’ lives while accomplishing the mission was the highest honor he ever received.
The unit, which would normally have supported a single division, supported three divisions within a 15-mile sector that straddled the 38th Parallel. The superb performance of Outland’s battalion contributed to its parent unit receiving a U.S. Meritorious Unit Commendation and two Presidential Unit Citations from the Republic of Korea. Outland attributed the battery’s success to its soldiers’ dedication to duty and the leadership of its commander, Capt. Bert Prentis, and survey officer, Lt. Richey Dickson ’50B, whom Outland had known in barracks. The pre-deployment photo of the battery’s soldiers was always prominently displayed in his home.
For his service in Korea, Outland received the Bronze Star, the Korean Defense Medal with two service stars, the United Nations Korean Medal and the Republic of Korea’s Korean War Medal. After the war, Outland continued to serve in the Virginia Army National Guard with the 29th Infantry Division. He completed his service in 1961 in the grade of captain.
In October 1953, Outland began his delayed legal career in Norfolk, focusing on litigation, estates and corporate law. He ultimately formed the partnership of Outland & Gray with George H. Gray (whom he met in law school). By the late 1970s, the firm – then named Outland, Gray, O’Keefe and Hubbard and including law partner John J. O’Keefe ’65 – was a force in Virginia’s legal community, handling various transactional and litigation matters, including successful appeals to the Virginia Supreme Court. Outland retired from the active practice of law in 2002.
Outland was an extremely active citizen. He was a member of the Norfolk and Chesapeake Rotary Clubs, the Norfolk Wetlands Board, the American Legion Lynch-Anchorage Post 35 (for more than 60 years), the Norfolk Yacht & Country Club, the Norfolk German Club, the Tidewater Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution and Ducks Unlimited. Outland was a lecturer on constitutional law and other legal topics at the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk. He also led the Tidewater Chapter of the Washington and Lee Alumni Association, the Norfolk YMCA, the Norfolk Council on Alcoholism, the Pyramid Club and the Folly Creek Corporation. A devoted Episcopalian, he served the Church of the Good Shepherd and congregation as lay reader, choir member, vestryman and senior warden for several decades as well.
Outland had what his family describes as “a special love” for the Institute. Active in alumni affairs, he served on the board of directors of the VMI Alumni Association, and he was the president of the Association’s Norfolk-Portsmouth Chapter (making him perhaps the only alumnus of both VMI and W&L to lead a major metropolitan area alumni chapter for both schools). From 1981-83, he was president of the VMI Alumni Association. He served for one term on the VMI Board of Visitors from 1991-95 and one term on the Board of Governors of the Keydet Club in the 1970s. In honor of his service to the country, the commonwealth and the Institute, Outland received the aforementioned Distinguished Service Award.
His survivors include two sons, Grover C. Outland III ’81, James M. Outland ’83, and a daughter, Elizabeth O. Branner (whose husband is Wade H. Branner ’83); eight grandchildren, who include Matthew J. Outland ’17 and Benjamin M. Outland ’19; numerous nieces and nephews; and his sister, Nancy O. Chandler (widow of Webster M. Chandler Jr. ’46).
Outland’s beloved wife of 61 years, Margaret “Teancy” Matthews Outland, predeceased him.