Richmond - After suffering two recent falls as well as several other maladies, Mark Francis Gross passed away on December 14, 2021, at the age of 85. Marky, as he was affectionately known by his family, was a true character in the best sense of the word.
Mark was born on November 24, 1936, in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the first child of Anna (Nowitz) Gross and Bernard Gross. Blessed with a keen mind, Mark was a gifted student who loved spending time with his grandparents, Gittel and Philip Nowitz. Mark also became an avid stamp and coin collector, setting a pattern of collecting that would last a lifetime. While growing up in Bridgeport, Mark often told the story of how he went to his dentist’s office and met the most beautiful girl he had ever seen, who was there with his cousin. Eventually, that girl, Judith Schefkind, became his loving wife of nearly 60 years.
Mark graduated from Bassick High School followed by The University of Connecticut at Storrs. He was a member of the Phi Epsilon Pi fraternity and made lifelong friends. Upon graduating college, Mark attended and graduated from the University of Connecticut School of Law.
After law school, Mark began working for the City Attorney’s office in Bridgeport. After several years he struck out on his own to build what ultimately became a successful law practice. Mark was a member of the U.S. Army Reserve, rising to the rank of Unit Supply Sergeant. Mark and Judy married in December of 1961. They began their journey together in a small one-bedroom apartment. Money was scarce in those early days as Mark built his law practice while Judy worked as a public-school teacher. Yet those early days were some of their happiest. From their first home on Ranch Drive to Unquowa Hill Street, Mark’s practice and family grew as he and Judy were blessed with two children, Joel and Lori.
During the 1960s Mark led the successful legal efforts to integrate the City of Bridgeport’s police and fire departments. Mark faced significant backlash for his role, but he did so because it was the right thing to do. Doing the right thing became another consistent theme throughout his life. Mark was actively involved in local politics and served as Bridgeport’s Housing Authority Chairman, Housing Site Development Commissioner, and City Treasurer.
Yet despite his success as a lawyer, husband, and father, something was missing in Mark’s life. That “something” was religion. As a lifelong non-practicing Jew, he found himself visiting Judy’s Aunt Lena in Atlanta, GA. While there, Lena convinced Mark to go to church with her on Sunday. He did so and had a life-changing religious experience which led to his conversion to Christianity.
Mark eventually graduated from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and became an ordained Southern Baptist Minister. While practicing law, Mark was a weekly speaker and Minister at Hosanna Ministry, a faith-based drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility in Bridgeport. He also served as an associate pastor at The Friendship Baptist Church in Stratford, CT. Researching, writing, and sharing his sermons with the Friendship Baptist congregation brought Mark much joy and happiness.
Mark’s stamp collecting continued along with numerous other antiques including tobacco tins, toy soldiers, Boy Scout memorabilia, planes and trucks, Dick Tracy pins, trading cards, and sheet music to name just a few. Mark and Judy loved dusty antique shops, flea markets, and auctions. Annual trips to the Pennsylvania Dutch Country and Brimfield were always personal favorites.
Mark was a loving husband and father, yet an even better grandfather. He adored and doted on his six grandchildren attending countless games, concerts, birthday parties, recitals, and graduations. Mark regaled them with stories of “Marky Maypo” and tales from his college days. He was a constant presence in their lives, and we are all richer for it.
Mark is survived by his best friend and loving wife Judy of Richmond, Maine, his daughter Lori Gross Kinkade and her husband Chris of Harpswell, Maine, his son Joel Gross and his wife Beth of Walpole, MA, his sister Carole Weinstein of New Haven, CT, his brother Philip Gross of Orange, CT and his loving grandchildren Katherine, Thomas, Collette, Drew, Ryan, and Kevin.
Due to the COVID endemic, Mark’s family will hold a celebration of his rich and full life in the spring or summer of 2022. In the interim, we will mourn the loss of a truly good man.
To share your thoughts and condolences with the family, please visit www.desmondfuneralhomes.com