We would like to offer our sincere support to anyone coping with grief. Enter
your email below for our complimentary daily grief messages. Messages run for up to one year and you
can stop at any time. Your email will not be used for any other purpose.
John Robert Gross
November 18, 1948 ~ August 20, 2023 (age 74) 74 Years Old
Read more about the life story of John and share your memory.
John Robert Gross was born in Lansdale, PA, on November 18, 1948 to Earl Cook Gross, a Baptist minister, and Catherine Shaw Gross, a librarian, joining his older brother Earl George Gross. The family moved to Washington, PA in 1951, then to Bluffton, IN in 1961, following his father’s work. They moved once more to Trumansburg, NY where John graduated from Charles O. Dickerson High School in 1966. He attended Muskingum College for one year but ultimately graduated from SUNY Oswego with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology in 1971. As a formal conscientious objector to the Vietnam War, he served his two year commitment at Bacone College in Muskogee, OK where he taught and tutored biology. He then took a position as the Director of Admissions at Sheldon Jackson College in Sitka, AK.
He went on to earn a Master of Science for Teachers in Biology from Cornell University in 1976 and a Master of Science in Animal Nutrition from Penn State in 1982. John became an analytical chemist first in pharmaceuticals at Wyeth Ayerst and then in agricultural chemicals at American Cyanamid and BASF in the Princeton, NJ area. He taught extensively both before and after his research career at the high school and college levels in the subjects of biology, chemistry, physics, anatomy/physiology, microbiology, nutrition, botany, ecology, and zoology.
John was known for his lifelong talents as a magician and pianist. At the age of 6, he began taking piano lessons from the church organist where they lived in Washington, PA. He played daily throughout his life and for many church services and private parties. John enjoyed performing magic from teenage years on and was always learning new tricks. He was a member of the American Society of Magicians and served as the President of the 181 Assembly from 2003-04. He performed under the stage names Jonathan Swift and Swifty the Magician throughout his life.
John married Nancy Lammers Gross, a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, in 1987 and resided in Plainsboro, New Jersey from 1986-2009. They had two daughters together and were married for 29 years. John retired to Ithaca, New York, a place he loved deeply. He enjoyed his family home on Cayuga Lake and was a member of the First Baptist Church of Ithaca.
John is predeceased by his parents. He is survived by his daughters, Abby Gross and Anna Johnson (Konrad Johnson), granddaughter Aurora Johnson, brother Earl Gross (Elaine Gross), niece Emily Gross and nephew Ehren Gross. He is buried next to his parents in National Memorial Park in West Falls Church, Virginia.