Reb Yitzchok Dovid Groner was Niftar today in Melbourne at the age of 82. What I remember of Rabbi Groner is spending time with him in Eretz Yisroel when he visited for a Simcha in 5752. I can still hear him singing like Pinye Althaus now, remembering the times the Frierdige Rebbe would ask Pinye to sing. Rabbi Groner was a talmid of Chaim Berlin before leaving to Lubavitch in 1940, and I'm inclined to think that his leadership style may have been learned from Rav Hutner...
Here's what a commenter on Yeshiva World remembered about him and Chabad in general in Australia many moons ago.
I was in Yeshiva College in Melbourne from 1957 till 1967. I remember Rabbi Groner very well. May I be corrected - I believe he was the first American born Lubavitcher in Australia.
The other emissaries of the Rebbe were Russian born Lubavitchers who would regale us with true life stories of the hardships of being a frum Jew in Communist Russia - if not czarist Russia. Reb Zalman Serebransky - the fines Yid you could meet - and the one who got me started as a little boy on snuff on Shabbos; and sons Arel and Chaim.
And the 6.00 am minyan in Yeshiva that I would go to with my father- where I got sick of alchohol at an early age- from drinking too much slivovitz (with herring) too early in the morning after minyan. And Reb Gurevitch who danced on Simchas Torah like no other person I have seen - somersaults and all - Lechvod Hatorah. Rav Perlov - who was the Posek. My Father used to take him to the Adas Yisroel (Hungarian Kehilla) mikveh on Friday mornings before 6 a.m. I would tag along for the “dip”. My Mother used to buy fish for him and his Rebbetzin - which I remember bringing to their house. Rav Klugant - one of my Rebbes in Yeshiva. And Rav Althaus who had a Hotel(Chedva) in the Dandenong Mountains- about 25 miles out of Melbourne. Our family went there for Rosh Hashonah one year.
These were the finest, Emes'dike Yidden I have met.(Please my current friends - do not take offense - I am reminiscing)
They loved you with all their heart. Even when Reb Arel Serebranski would pat me on the shoulder in the school playgrounds (to check if I was wearing my Tzitzis!!!)it was done with love and sincerity. It was a beautiful place to grow up and live, having these Yidden as my first Yiddishe memories as a child. Thank you Rabbi Groner for helping create a Mokom for me to go to school and a place to Daven.