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Published: Thursday, 2/21/2008

Company exec had an eye for lighting trends

Armand M. Gross, 94, whose discerning eye for trends was prized by the family-run lighting business his uncle founded nearly a century ago, of which he was a longtime executive, died Monday at his home in Wood County's Middleton Township.

The cause of death was not known. He was in declining health in recent years, his daughter, Gwynneth Barton, said.

Mr. Gross retired in 1979 as executive vice president of Gross Electric Inc.

"He was a great merchandiser," said Richard Gross, chairman of the board and his cousin.

Armand Gross' duties during a career that began in 1935 included store manager; buyer, and advertising and sales promotion manager. He went to industry and trade shows, and he was "a great lamp buyer," his cousin said.

"He was always a very sharp and a great buyer and a good judge of trends," his cousin said. "He did most of the buying in the lighting fixture end of the business. He was very important to the company.

"I give Armand a lot of credit for bringing a lot of things to Toledo that Toledo didn't have before," his cousin said.

Mr. Gross grew up in Chicago, the son of David and Bertha Gross. His father's brother, George "Joe" Gross, who founded an electric fixture company in Toledo in 1910, called on his nephew Armand to help out.

"He loved working with people," his daughter said.

Mr. Gross was in the Army Air Corps during World War II, attended officer candidate school, and was commissioned in the Quartermaster Corps.

"They realized his ability with numbers was outstanding," his daughter said.

While in England, he met his wife, the former Jean Marie Ostick. They married July 19, 1945, in Chorley, Lancashire.

His brother, Stanley, was a flight navigator during the war whose plane was reported missing in 1944 over the South Pacific. In January, 1983, Mr. Gross learned that the wreckage of his brother's plane and his brother's remains were found in a New Guinea jungle.

"I'm happy in the thought that, finally, we know," Mr. Gross told The Blade in 1983. "It's like the epilogue to a movie or a book, the final chapter is now complete."

He and his sisters attended the military services at Fort Sheridan, Ill.

"I wasn't so much shocked as I was surprised when I heard," Mr. Gross said in 1983. "I never thought he would be found."

Mr. Gross was a past president and treasurer of the Waterville Rotary Club. He was a past president of the membership association of Riverby Hills Golf Club.

He was a Mason and a member of the American Legion.

"He was always involved with civic activities," his daughter said. "That was something he instilled in all of us: You give back to your community. That was part of what the war did to him, the understanding that the United States was such a defender of freedom in the world, and it's not a country you can take for granted."

Mr. Gross was a supporter of the arts. World travels with his wife included a golfing vacation to Scotland. He was a Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs fan, and he grew roses.

"Everyone said he was a good man. He was a diplomat," his daughter said. "Everyone was his friend."

Surviving are his wife, Jean Gross; daughters, Lesley Gilbert, Gwynneth Barton, and Jennifer Kuhn; five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

At Mr. Gross' request, his body was donated to the University of Toledo college of medicine, formerly Medical College of Ohio.

There will be no visitation or services.

The family suggests tributes to Hospice of Northwest Ohio.



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