Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice



August 28, 2020

Written by the family

Albert Irving Gross was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on Aug. 25, 1929, to Molly and Meyer Gross and passed on Aug. 16, 2020, following a lengthy illness. At age 2 during the winter, Al sat in his baby carriage along with food for relatives. His mother pushed the carriage across a frozen pond and told him not to tell his father that she was giving away food he had worked hard to pay for. That was when Tikkun Olam, Healing the World, was actively birthed in him for he went on in life to work for justice and social action. After graduating from Suffolk University in Boston, Al joined the Navy. Afterwards he purposely chose the South where he took his battle for workers’ rights, working in Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Al was involved in the 1960s in the Deep South. He knew John F. Kennedy before he ran for president. Martin Luther King worked together with Al on the Memphis Sanitation strike that eventually took Martin Luther King’s life. Because of his connection to Dr. King, Al frequently was honored at the Orlando MLK interfaith candlelight march and service. Al was a Union International Representative for over 40 years working for three ALF-CIO Unions. He organized blue-collar workers in the City of Orlando, Orange County, and the Greater Orlando International Airport. One special accomplishment was having Black workers be hired as supervisors.

In February 2013, Al was recognized by the Kinneret Council on Aging as a recipient of the 8 Over 80 award. He personally lived his life deeply rooted in his beliefs. He was a proud Democrat. There is a magnolia tree planted at Lake Eola with a bronze plaque dedicating it to him for his service to workers in Orange County. On the day of his retirement, Feb. 9, 1999, Mayor Glenda Hood proclaimed that day as Albert I. Gross Day in Orange County. Twenty-one years later on March 22, 2020, Al was given a 50-year continuous membership achievement certificate and a gold membership card in commemoration of this memorable occasion by Laborers’ International Union of North America. His leadership, dedication, sacrifice, commitment to goals, ideals, values of the Union will not be forgotten.

For over 40 years Al was a member of Congregation of Liberal Judaism, later renamed Congregation of Reform Judaism. He was on the Board of the Jewish Federation Community Relations Committee service for many years as their liaison to the Seminole County Democrat party. Al was on the board for over 40 years of Apopka’s Justice and Peace office run by Sister Teresa McElwee of the Sisters of Notre Dame.

He left a personal legacy of daughter Paula Horne, whom he dearly loved, son-in-law Steve, and two grandsons, Benny and Nick. He was extremely proud of Paula’s successful career as a CPA and her high level of integrity with her clients. From an early age, he involved her in politics and the importance of doing right by others. As she grew she always embodied a true work ethic, which was so vitally important to him. As each year passed their bond grew stronger.

Al’s legacy includes his brother, Lenny Gross; sister-in-law, Arlene; sister-in-law, Cookie Davis; brother-in-law, Lynn; three nephews, two nieces, four great nephews, and five great nieces.

He met his future wife, Linda, then a public school teacher, at a CROP Walk for Hunger sponsored by local synagogues and churches. Al always encouraged her spiritual work and was proud of her. He adored his dog Hercules and was Poppy to Linda’s two grandsons, Ethan and Aaron Flower.

For Al’s final year of watching Chanukah candles be lit, a one-minute silent meditation was added to the rituals. Al chose one theme, “Unconditional Love.” Al’s caregivers Bob, Dee, and Meg served with love.

A private family service, with military honors, was held at Congregation of Reform Judaism Cemetery in Gotha, with Rabbi Steven W Engel officiating. In memory of Albert I Gross, the family requests contributions to Israel’s National Emergency Service, Magen David Adom, 352 Seventh Avenue, NY, NY 10001.


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