AKRON, Ohio — Clifford Grove fought through emotions as he talked about the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
Grove, 76, lives in Hudson but grew up in London. He moved to the United States in 1977 to get married. With the exception of the first six years of his life, Grove has only known one monarch.
"You could always look to the queen," he said while wiping away tears. "It's difficult to talk about. This was our rock. This was the person we could lean upon and suddenly she's not there. Everything changes, but the queen never changed."
As the president of the British American Club in Twinsburg, Grove felt compelled to do something to honor Queen Elizabeth II outside of the building on Ravenna Road.
He lowered Great Britain's flag out of respect and put the letters "RIP" on a sign.
"What else is there to say? There's nothing else to say," he told News 5.
Grove, who served in the British military, also had a unique encounter with the royal family when the queen's husband, Prince Philip, visited a military base more than 50 years ago.
"I was an engineer and I maintained a whole group of tanks and he wanted to drive one. He wanted to drive one, so they gave him mine and I got up top and he went down in front and he drove it," Grove explained.
Cindy Simko, whose grandparents came from England, is the entertainment chairman for the Twinsburg club. She too is touched by the way Queen Elizabeth II lived her life.
"She always persevered and she did it with grace and wisdom and strength and so how can you not respect somebody like that?" Simko said.
After 70 years, King Charles III takes the crown, which is still a little hard to comprehend for both Grove and Simko.
"I don't know because I haven't seen much. He's had his problems, of course, and he's going to have to ride through those," Grove said. "It will work itself out, but it will be very different in the meantime."
"We're hoping as time goes on, King Charles III will take lessons or remember his mother's teachings. Be as good a king as she was a queen. That's a lot to say though," Simko added.
On Friday evening, a scheduled fish and chips dinner will take place at the British American Club, but the mood could feel quite different on a night when comfort food could be much needed.
"I know some people are going to be real upset and they probably won't come, but there may be a group that says we want to get together at this time," Grove said.
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