Life Story Celebration
Thursday, October 5, 2023
5:00 PM to 8:00 PM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Where food, drinks, and stories will be shared.
Friday, October 6, 2023
1:30 PM EDT
Prairie Home Cemetery
9200 E D Ave
Richland, MI 49083
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
With a beautiful smile and a heart filled with gladness, Barb Gross lived a life rich in faith, family, and friends. The life of the party, Barb was always positive and loved unconditionally. Her magnetic personality, smile, and loving nature drew everyone close to her. Barb was an unwavering source of love, comfort, confidence, and hope. She proved a powerful role model for living a wholehearted life. A devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and friend, Barb will long be remembered and so very missed.
After years of misery brought on by the Great Depression and World War II, 1949 marked significant postwar prosperity as sales of cars, televisions, and other goods were demanded by a consumer society. The establishment of NATO, the first sale of a VW Beetle in the US, the first successful television sitcom, and the first Polaroid camera marked 1949 as a year of hope, growth, and consumerism. The nation's focus was on family and building a brighter future. Nowhere was there more hope than in the hearts and home of Robert and Janet Goodman as they welcomed their daughter Barb to their family on January 30 in St. Louis, Missouri.
When Barb was two, the family moved to Lincolnwood, Illinois, a north Chicago suburb. Raised in a Catholic home, Barb also attended Regina Dominican High School, where she excelled in academics and leadership. After graduating high school, Barb attended Indiana University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Sociology and Forensic Studies in 1971.
During her sophomore year in college, she met fellow IU student William L. Gross while on a blind date with his best friend. A waiter at Barb's sorority house, Bill was immediately attracted to Barb's personality. A few days after they met, he asked her out on a group date. Their first date ended up being just the two of them, which led to discovering many shared interests including being raised Catholic and their mutual love for dogs. The couple dated for a time and were soon setting their hearts on sharing the future. William proposed, and they married in June 1972, and they recently celebrated their 51st Wedding Anniversary on June 23.
Barb's first job was on a team investigating fire claims with Fireman's Fund out of Chicago, and it became a catalyst for a career in the insurance industry. But first, she became a mother and committed to being a stay-at-home mom until her three sons were in school. Loving and supportive, Barb was William, Robert, and Michael's first, best, and biggest fan. She relished every moment, cheering on their sports, driving them across the state to play in soccer and basketball games, and becoming close friends with all the players and their families. Barb's likable personality led to many great friendships with the kids and their parents and increased the fun when they stayed in hotels together for tournaments.
Early in their marriage, Barb worked for Bill as a bookkeeper at his business, but once her kids were in school full-time, Barb eagerly returned to work for Citizens Insurance. Focused on workman's compensation claims, she confidently took on only the most difficult cases for her company, which meant she had to be familiar with various facets of the insurance process, legal proceedings, medical procedures, and she had to have incredible negotiating skills. She was a natural and excelled in all areas. With extreme compassion for the claimants, she did everything possible to be a champion for them. Colleagues and clients alike quickly learned they could trust her knowledge and skills, and she became very influential in decisions made on claims. After serving the company and its clients for many years, Barb Retired at age 55 from Citizens Insurance as a Senior Regional Claims Specialist in Workman Compensation.
Quickly bored in retirement, despite walking 10,000 steps a day, Barb happily returned to work, serving as Claims Manager for Nulty Insurance. Providing an important service to clients, and the supportive family atmosphere and deep friendships formed at Nulty, Barb continued working a reduced schedule until the age of 67.
Without a doubt, Barb's sons were her great joy. Building on her passion and commitment to education, her sons achieved academic success at every level. With degrees from Michigan State University (Go, Spartans!), each has a successful career. William is a construction firm owner and a Russian Orthodox priest. Robert is an engineer and worked on the International Space Station right out of college. And Michael is the managing partner of a Venture Capital Firm with a professional designation as a CFA. The apples fell close to the tree.
As her sons married, Barb was thrilled to welcome their wives into her family. She also formed close relationships with two special women, her daughter-in-law, Patty. They often talked daily on the phone, sometimes twice, and always felt blessed to have each other. Niece Jan was a kindred spirit and spent a lifetime of special visits with Barb. As nine grandchildren graced her life, Barb was thrilled to have more love to shower, Christmas gifts to share, and summer family reunions to hold at the homestead.
Faith was the cornerstone of Barb's life. For many years, she volunteered on the church service team at St. Ambrose Church, which brought her closer to God, provided friends with people who shared her values and enriched an essential area of her life. Christmas time was especially important in Barb's life as it represented everything she valued most: God, religion, love, sharing, and giving. She loved finding unique gifts for others, and decorating the tree was a family affair. Each ornament has a story, and the tree truly accented their home and the season. Many good times were spent decorating cookies with her kids.
Barb enjoyed many things, including fashion, days at the beach, camping, cheering on her family, and dogs. She loved fashion and always looked like a million bucks; red was her favorite color. Barb loved to sit in the sun. Whether on the deck at home, Campbell Park, or on Lake Michigan at Warren Dunes, she soaked up the sun's rays with delight. Beach time with the boys and Bill and the yearly family camping trips along Lake Michigan's shores were always treasured. Still, perhaps the happiest and most animated Barb was when she followed her children and grandchildren's sporting, acting, art, music, plays, and dancing endeavors. Traveling the state, region, and country to witness and encourage her loved ones and their peers provided many hours of family fun.
Though our days with her were far too few, every moment we shared with Barb proved a gift we will long treasure. As her passing leaves a huge hole in many people's lives, we are blessed to know her and vow to keep her indomitable and uplifting spirit alive by sharing her life stories and carrying her beautiful legacy forward. In each moment we choose faith over fear, share a warm smile, cheer on our loved ones' endeavors, enjoy a day at the beach, decorate the Christmas tree, or curl up with our favorite canine companion, we celebrate the many ways Barb made the world a better place. In this way, we keep her spirit alive and inspiring others as she so inspired us.
A lifelong dog enthusiast, Barb always had a small dog and, most times, two. Over 15 years, three Norfolk Terriers provided Barb with 25 puppies! Barb loved playing mother to the newborn puppies. It proved a great hobby she shared with breeder, friend, and experienced dog show judge Joan Eckhart. Though she made little money, she relished the great fun along the way.
The beautiful "country living" home Barb and Bill created and shared for 49 years provided stability, comfort, and a special place to bond with friends and family. It was the place where a lifetime of memories were made, including holidays, family gatherings, bringing home babies, children playing, and even one of her all-time favorite weddings. There she passed peacefully in her sleep, ending one chapter of living and entering an eternity of LOVE with God.
Barb always prioritized family, and she returned to Chicago frequently to visit. A huge Chicago Cubs fan, she always listened to them on the radio or TV. She loved most sports, but especially the Cubs. She especially enjoyed taking her kids to games. Barb also enjoyed a special relationship with her niece, Jan (Goodman) Gibbis. Kindred spirits, Barb and Jan shared fun times and special visits over the course of 40 years.
Barbara Elizabeth (Goodman) Gross, of Galesburg, is survived by husband, Bill; three sons, William (Shruti) Gross, Robert (Patty) Gross, and Michael (Sophia) Gross, and nine grandchildren: AJ, Dominic, Marissa, Fiona, Nico, Ezikiel, Panya, Sava, and Simona. Also surviving are sister, Nancy (Goodman) Radis and husband Orin; brother, Robert Goodman and wife Kim; and many nieces and nephews.
A Life Story Celebration will take place Thursday (OCT 5) from 5-8 PM, where food, drinks, and stories will be shared at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. Mass will be celebrated Friday (OCT 6) at 12 PM at St. Ambrose Catholic Church. Please visit Barb's memory page at BetzlerLifeStory.com to share a photo, memory, or to sign her guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer's Association.