John Groman

John Groman

The sad news came from Jim Stark that John Groman died on August 27. “John had been ill for a while, although he was always upbeat,” Jim says. “His latest surgery was his third in a relatively short period of time. He had severe chronic lung disease as well, likely from unrecognized asthma. He soldiered on, but when I last saw him about 18 months ago he was quite limited in what he could do. Always upbeat but obviously knew that his days were numbered. Grim reaper is out there. Don’t put off what you can do today. RIP, John.”

“John Groman was one of our class’s great entrepreneurs,” says Dick Pechter. “After a Harvard MBA, he co-founded epsilon Data Management. one of the first organizations to use the power of computing, and data, to target market selling. After that, he created several more companies, including a spa treatment chain. Terrific energy, optimism and a willingness to challenge conventional thinking – and fun!!!!”

“I knew John more from St Paul’s School alumni stuff and had forgotten he was at Yale as well,” says Jim Taylor. “He loved to fish for trout and shoot birds, so I had occasion to see him out here in Montana as well as in New Hampshire. I think of most Yale people as “upstream swimmers,” always going against the flow to find some other – hopefully better – way of doing things and living life. John was a classic in that vein but also a good and loyal friend. He will be sorely missed.”

“Oh Lord, there goes another one. One of the very sad things about aging,” says Steve Small. “John and I were in JE together. We were friends on Facebook, and he was a very active poster about his travels, his family life, and, occasionally, things political. John’s politics were far to the right of mine, but he and I always had polite and respectful exchanges (with only a slight bit of tongue-in-cheek) over those matters – actually quite a remarkable accomplishment I know he had a great track record in business, but based on my exchanges with him I think one of the things he was the most proud of was being sober for 40+ years – and I mean that in a positive way, a real compliment. He had the brains and education and ‘outer’ strength to be very successful in business, and he had the inner strength to achieve that significant goal.”


John Edward Groman, Age 74, of Brays Island Plantation, Sheldon, SC (formerly of Dover, MA), died on August 24th. He was born in New Britain, Connecticut on May 24, 1945. John earned a scholarship to St. Paul’s School, Concord, NH where he graduated with highest honors in 1963. He was competitive in academics and athletics and was rumored to have held the school’s record for highest number of demerits for his antics.

He earned a BS (cum laude) from Yale University (1967) and an MBA from Harvard Business School (1969), graduating as a Baker Scholar. In 1969, he co-founded Epsilon Data Management which pioneered and developed sophisticated database communication and development systems for fraternities, non-profits, political organizations and corporations. John was a brilliant strategic thinker and was an important creative force behind the personalized direct mail industry. He instinctively knew how to motivate people. In 1993, he founded Bella Sante, which is a collection of highly successful luxury day and medical spas in the Boston area.

John was a man of great complexity. When news of his passing started to spread, his wife of 45 years Cara (Finnegan) Groman, began hearing from people: They called him a genius, provocative, inspirational, ambitious, loyal, driven, loving, generous, opinionated, brusque, intense, and somewhat frightening. One friend said if John were an animal, he’d be an armadillo: hard outer crust, and soft on the inside. John had two drives in his life: to make money to improve his family’s lives, and then to give it away to improve the lives of others.

In addition to his wife, Cara, John leaves two children, Madeline Groman Richard and her husband Shawn; a son Andrew, and his wife Hadley (Meenan); three grandchildren, Henry, Amelia and Charlie; and two brothers Walter and David. His parents Walter and Mary (Zelek) Groman and his sister Janice predeceased him. Contributions in his memory can go to Recovery Journeys, Inc. (PO Box 384, Sheldon, SC 29941), an organization John and Cara founded to provide rich experiences and support for people suffering from addiction, poverty, and other factors that limit personal growth. A Celebration of Life in John’s honor will take place in Cohasset, MA for family and friends at 11:00am on Saturday, September 28th. For details:

Published in The New York Times on Sept. 21, 2019