John Gillespie Gross Sr.

John Gillespie

Gross, Sr.

October 25, 1920

July 29, 2014

John Gillespie Gross, Sr. passed away peacefully on July 29, 2014. He was born October 25, 1920 in Osborn, Missouri to John George and Catherine Lawson Gross. He lived a long and rewarding life.

John grew up in a farming family during the Great Depression with 3 older sisters in Osborn, Missouri. After being the Valedictorian of his high school class, he graduated from the University of Missouri in 1942 with a degree in Agriculture. World War II interrupted his career path and he became a navigator for B-17 aircraft in the Army Air Corps. He served in the 95th Bomb Group where he flew 35 missions from England to the European Theatre. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, four Oak Leaf Clusters and seven battle stars.

After the war, he resided in Plattsburg, Missouri and taught a vocational program to returning veterans. It was there that he met his future wife, Alice Louise Best. They were married in Platte City, Missouri on November 6, 1949. Soon after that he was recalled to active duty and served as an instructor for B-29 aircraft at Randolph Field in San Antonio, Texas. Their son, John, Jr. was born during this time. John left the military with the rank of Captain.

They returned to Missouri where John worked as an Extension Agent. He earned his M.S. in Extension Education from the University of Missouri - Columbia in 1962. He then became County Extension Director in Harrison County, Bethany, Missouri. They moved to Lincoln, Nebraska in 1965 where he earned his Ph.D. in Adult Education with a concentration in Educational Research and Evaluation from the University of Nebraska. Columbia, Missouri ultimately became their home when John became a Professor of Extension Education at the University of Missouri, and subsequently became the Chairman of the Department. His students included graduate school candidates from 24 countries. A special assignment with the Federal Extension Service in Washington, D.C. enabled John to collaborate on a textbook on Adult and Continuing Education, which was published in 1984. John retired from the University of Missouri in 1991with the status of Professor Emeritus.

John was a devout Christian and a loyal member of the Missouri United Methodist Church in Columbia, Missouri, where he served as an usher for 30 years. He also served as a member of the Administrative Board, Commission on Evangelism, a Sunday School teacher, and in other miscellaneous capacities. When he and Alice moved to Pensacola in 2000 to be near their son, they joined the First United Methodist Church where they participated in bridge club, Senior Programs and never missed a Sunday service.

John was an active member of the Masonic Lodge and the Scottish Rite where he was a dual member of the Columbia Valley and Pensacola Valley. He was awarded to the Knight Commander Court of Honor in 1989. He was also a member of the Moila Temple Shrine in St. Joseph, Missouri. He was a past member of the Scottish Rite Foundation of Missouri. His Honorary Societies included Alpha Zeta, Alpha Pi Zeta, Gamma Sigma Delta, Phi Delta Kappa and Epsilon Sigma Phi. He was a lifetime member of the Farmhouse Fraternity and a member of the National Association of Retired Federal Employees. He was a member of the Kiwanis Club in both Columbia, Missouri and Pensacola, Florida for over 17 years. He participated in the Rotary Club in Bethany, Missouri, the American Legion Post in Columbia, Missouri and the Pensacola Civitan Club.

John was preceded in death by his parents and sisters, Wilhelmina Wilcox, Margaret Ehlers and Elizabeth Johnson, and his wife of 59 years, Alice Best Gross. He is survived by his son, John G. Gross, Jr. (Trish) of Pensacola, Florida and his two grandchildren, Dianne Gross and John G. Gross III (Jack), and several nieces and a nephew.

The family wishes to thank the caregivers at Pacifica Senior Living Creekside where John resided for the last several years. Their love and care allowed him to live out his last years with dignity. We also thank the staff of Covenant Hospice for making his last days as easy for him as possible.

A Celebration of Life Service led by Dr. Wesley Wachob will be held Monday, August 4, 2014 at 2:00 at the Bayview Fisher-Pou Chapel. The family will receive visitors beginning at 1:00. A private family entombment will follow the service.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making donations to the Living Trust at the First United Methodist Church, 6 E. Wright St., Pensacola, FL 32501.

BAYVIEW FISHER-POU CHAPEL 3351 Scenic Highway, Pensacola, FL is entrusted with arrangements.

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Bayview Fisher-Pou Chapel
3351 Scenic Highway 90e Pensacola, FL 32503
(850) 432-7805

Published in Pensacola News Journal from Aug. 2 to Aug. 4, 2014