Norman "Bear" Pross

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Norman "Bear" Pross Lansing Norman "Bear" Pross began his final journey home peacefully, surrounded by his loved ones, on Tuesday, July 20, 2010 at Hospice of Lansing, Stoneleigh Residence. Bear, as he was known to all, was born August 14, 1950 in Bay City, Michigan to Alfred and Syble (Jones) Pross. He grew up on his family's farm in Standish, Michigan where he attended a one-room school-house until 5th grade. He graduated from Standish-Sterling High School in 1969 and from Central Michigan University, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education and a certificate in special education. He moved to Lansing in 1974, where he lived for the remainder of his life. Bear was known, both personally and professionally, as an incredibly compassionate and fierce champion of gay rights, people living with disabilities, and the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act twenty years ago. He worked in physical therapy both at Eaton Intermediate School District and at St. Lawrence Hospital. He was an advocate for people with disabilities, including people with HIV, with Michigan Protection and Advocacy Services. In his most recent job, as a consultant to the Michigan Department of Community Health, HIV/AIDS Prevention and Intervention Section, he was known as an eloquent trainer on HIV-related issues. His intelligence, compassion, and unwavering sense of justice made him a respected colleague, mentor and leader in his field. In addition to his professional achievements, Bear had many other interests. He studied at Lansing Community College and became a volunteer interpreter of American Sign Language (ASL). Bear was a masterful baker and cake decorator, a skilled calligrapher, a collector of antiques, a world traveler, a lover of cats, and a Scrabble player who focused more on the beauty of the words than on the strategy of the game. He had a quick and mischievous wit, and never passed up a good double entendre. Bear leaves his longtime companion of 32 years, David McSkulin. Bear's memory will be cherished by his sisters; Sandra Kolevar and her husband David, of Saginaw; and Joanne Pross and her husband Ken Jameson, of Alaska; his loving nephews and nieces; Scott and Shelly Kolevar and their children, Scotty and Brooke; Jason and Nicole Kolevar and their children, Justin and Madison; Jennifer Kolevar (Jim Edler); and Annalise Jameson. Bear will be deeply missed by his chosen family--dear friends Marilyn and Bernard Brown and their daughters, Courtney and Ashley; and Ellen Ives and Colleen Johnson and their sons, Aidan and Sam. He is also survived by Delores and John Kazenko, Kathy Shaw, and many other family members; by the Hillsdale Kitts, and his many friends, colleagues and clients who loved him. Bear was preceded in death by his parents, grandparents, and several close friends. Honoring his wishes, cremation has taken place. A memorial service and celebration of Bear's life will be held Saturday, August 14, 2010 at 2:00 p.m. at Edgewood United Church, 469 N. Hagadorn, East Lansing, MI, with a reception to follow at the same location. The service will be ASL interpreted. Arrangements are by the Estes-Leadley Greater Lansing Chapel. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations to: Hospice of Lansing for the Stoneleigh Residence ( or Triangle Foundation/Michigan Equality of Michigan ( or the Capital Area Humane Society ( The family wishes to thank the staff and volunteers of the Stoneleigh Residence. We will always remember the kind and compassionate care given to Bear and his family. One of his favorite quotes will always be a reminder of the way Bear lived his life: "There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward." (Kahlil Gibran)

Published in Lansing State Journal on Aug. 8, 2010
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