Ed and Patricia McGruder have been longtime supporters of United Way, beginning with their involvement in Diversity Leadership Circle and today, Tocqueville Society.
They met while pursuing their undergraduate degrees at Texas A&M, and it was “interested at first sight,” they both lovingly remarked. When you meet this “power couple” – Ed, a chief medical officer at ELANCO, and Patricia, an attorney for the National Labor Relations Board – you quickly see what inspires them, what motivates them, what makes them laugh, and what advice guides them in their everyday lives.
ED: Breaking away from the “family business” was hard.
I come from a large family of veterinarians – my father, my siblings and my uncles. Dad wanted me to join the “family business,” but I chose to go down a different path in the science field. Although disappointed at first, my dad has become very supportive of me and my career. I hold dear the greatest advice he ever gave me. He said, “Ed, if you go into business to make a living, then you’ll make money. If you go into business to make money, you’ll go broke.”
PATRICIA: My father always told me, “Patricia, you were created for something more.”
I was born an overachiever. I was the first of my siblings to go to college. I enlisted in the Marines. I chose to go into the field of law because I want to be the voice for those who need me. I hear my father’s words every day – “be that something more” – in my work, my faith, my family and in my community.
ED: The Boy Scouts, March of Dimes, and my Church were at the foundation of my philanthropic choices.
“Do a good deed everyday” is the Boy Scouts credo, and that’s exactly what shaped my first and early impressions of giving back to my community. I loved helping in any way I could – to groups like Top Teens of America and my church – and eventually to United Way agencies like the March of Dimes. And then, I became involved with the Diversity Leadership Circle, which was at a critical point in my life when I discovered, “You never know when you need United Way, until you do.” [make this a pullout quote within the story] My parents were experiencing some health challenges in their senior years, and I quickly became aware of how United Way agencies can help my parents’ critical needs.
PATRICIA: I think of United Way as “Stone Soup.”
Giving of my time, talent and treasure started in elementary school. I saw many injustices going on, and I spoke up. I wanted to do something. I later became introduced to United Way through Youth as Resources (YAR). We provided soap, toiletries and other basics to senior citizens and then presented a talent show for them, to boost their spirits. The Omni provided the space, and transportation was donated. It’s like the old folk story, “Stone Soup.” United Way brings the water to the pot and invites the neighborhood to bring the ingredients. In no time, it becomes a delicious meal that feeds the entire community.
ED: As scripture tells us, “To whom much is given, much will be required.”
It’s just who we are. Patricia and I feel strongly that we simply must give back, we are called upon to serve. We also teach our teenage boys to be of service to others. In fact, our teenagers do a service project every weekend!
PATRICIA and ED: If your educational foundation is strong, everything will fall into place.
We wish people knew more about the critical needs of our community, and how they can help solve those problems through United Way. Our kids are experiencing larger classrooms, IPS is closing schools, we’re bussing kids farther away from their homes. Our children on free and reduced lunch programs don’t have those options during the summer. We need to give all children the best opportunities to learn, so that they grow up with every possibility open to them. Education is *the* way to positively affect change.
ED: We just celebrated our 24th anniversary.
Our marriage has lasted this long because we know and love what makes us tick as individuals. Patricia is a giver, a hugger, and a God-fearing, super-organized and determined woman. She knows I’m a servant-leader, a natural provider, an enthusiastic person, a role model, and, I must admit, a hard-core gamer.
PATRICIA: My favorite lawyer joke?
Don’t even go there with me. I know what you call 1,000 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean: making the ocean a better place!