Jacob (Jack) Gross passed away at age 78 on March 1st, 2018 after a long struggle with a variety of health challenges. He died peacefully at home surrounded by his wife, Gretchen, and daughters, Debbie and Megan, son-in-law Vishal, and granddaughter Maya. It had always been his wish to be at home in his last days, and Gretchen cared for him with love, supported by Sutter Hospice and a group of caregivers for whom the family is deeply grateful.
Born in 1939 in Borough Park Brooklyn, NY to Sarah and Herman Gross, Jack grew up the youngest of three, with his sister Lillian and brother Louis. He left high school early to help with his father’s family business selling men’s suits. Later, he pursued his GED and enrolled at New York University as an older student. Beginning as a math major, he discovered a passion for computer programming in the early days of computer science (when a computer was a room full of large machines). Jack continued his career with computers, eventually managing networking and telecommunications for Chemical Bank (later part of JPMorganChase). He went on to work as an independent consultant for a variety of companies. On New Year’s Eve, 2000, Jack served in the Y2K command center for Deutsche Bank. He especially enjoyed working for publisher Random House and the non-profit Environmental Defense Fund.
Jack and Gretchen met in 1969 at a youth hostel skiing trip. Coming from different religious backgrounds (Jack Jewish and Gretchen Christian), they found common ground in their intense curiosity, love of nature, and discussions about religion. They were married in 1970 with an interfaith ceremony at the United Nations Chapel in New York City. They continued to enjoy hiking and cross-country skiing, discovering special places in the Northeast to share with their family – Silver Bay, Mohonk, and Craftsbury. Jack’s children remember his spirit of adventure, frequently invoking “the bear who went over the mountain to see what was on the other side.”
Friends and family remember Jack for his sharp intellect, his honesty, his commitment to justice, and his sense of humor. He used to proclaim “Goofiness is the highest virtue”, and was fond of puns, making up songs and stories, and creating elaborate acronyms (ATWFBWS = As The World Famous Bears Would Say). He enjoyed listening to classical music with the volume turned way up and conducting along. While at NYU, he worked with the college radio station, playing favorite music and running interviews on the air. He was a science fiction fan, enjoying Star Trek, Doctor Who, and similar shows.
Deeply loyal to his family, Jack cared for aging family members near and far. He instilled in his daughters a love of learning, took pride in their accomplishments, and made sure they felt supported in any career path they chose. In 2013 Jack and Gretchen moved to Davis, CA to be close to Debbie, Vishal, and Maya. Megan made frequent visits from Wisconsin. Although Jack struggled in later years, we remember him for the goodness of his full life.
There will be a short grave-side service for Jack at the Davis Cemetery on Sunday, March 4th starting at 2 pm. In lieu of flowers, those who would like to can make a donation in Jack’s memory to any of the following organizations:
Environmental Defense Fund (https://www.edf.org/)
Mohonk Preserve (http://www.mohonkpreserve.org/)
International Rescue Committee (https://www.rescue.org/)
American Civil Liberties Union (https://www.aclu.org/)
American Cancer Society (https://www.cancer.org/)