This obituary originally appeared on Memorial Funeral Home.

Colonel Alan Gross (USAF, Ret.), age 83, of Alexandria, Virginia, joined our Lord on January 7, 2021.

Alan was born in Des Moines, IA to H.R. and Hazel (Webster) Gross. He graduated from the University of Iowa as a proud member of the Delta Upsilon Fraternity. He married the love of his life, Linda Anne (Dillender) Gross of Arlington, VA on April 8, 1967 in Ft Myer Old Post Chapel, VA.

My dad lived his life entirely on his own terms. This sounds romantic unless you disagreed with those terms.

His strengths and talents were innumerable. Patience with incompetence was not normally listed towards the top of the list. His lifelong dedication to the “Washington Football Team” suggests we may have underestimated him.

He was a past master of backyard grilling, and his made-from-scratch lemon pancakes were legendary.

He was the best father who ever lived. He threw himself 1000%, without hesitation, behind his sons and his granddaughters, to whom Grandpa Gross was “Dampa Dos.” He personified unconditional love, instinctually. We were unbelievably lucky to have him as our dad and Dampa. As is often the case in a family with a pathologically reliable and profoundly generous soul, we took him for granted. There will never be another like him.

For many years I told my dad that we needed to find him a “Superman Cape.” His generosity of spirit extended to every person around him, including complete strangers. There are countless stories of him wading in to save the day. Once, shortly after he learned to ski, he observed a “runaway ski” accelerating towards three kids laying in the soft new snow, laughing without a care in the world. He launched himself towards the ski, managing at the absolute last second to save the kids from the unforgiving missile. It cost him a hard tumble and a ripped shoulder (I heard it rip) but he had, yet again, earned that cape.

As a United States Air Force Officer, Colonel Alan Gross served each and every one of us during his proud 30-year and 21-day career. He dedicated himself completely to “the mission” and to his people through many years of 12-hour days and six-day workweeks. At his retirement ceremony so many shared stories of ways he’d worked tirelessly for the people in his command. That day a Chief Master Sergeant told me, an Air Force Cadet at the time, “If you become even half the officer that your dad was, you’ll have a tremendous career. Good luck!” He was exactly right about my dad. Throughout his life, Colonel Alan Gross cared about people. He put others first and himself last, whether in our Armed Forces, in private life, or at home.

He relished adventure. My dad loved his memories of being at the controls of an F-80, flying with a friend of his 30 feet over the East China Sea while helping test China’s air defense network. He cruised the world many times over, bathed in the waters of Ephesus, rode ATVs in the Sinai desert, and exhilarated in over 20 freefall skydives.

Al Gross was both funny and warm. He had a special brand of sass that was every bit his own. If you congratulated him, you’d invariably hear something like, “What’d I win?” Or, “I’d rather take the cash.” He had a talent for appreciating people and making them feel special. Many recall his genuine warmth and personal engagement. He was so smart, and so wise, and was the man that you could always count on, no matter what. You could see the light in his soul through the twinkle in his eyes. Oh Lord, I’m going to miss that guy.

Alan is survived by his son, Gary Alan Gross, his granddaughters, Ronnie Elisabeth Lewis, Savannah (“Savvy”) Gross, and Evangeline (“Eva”) Gross, and a grand son-in-law, Spencer Lewis. Col. Gross will be missed by his sisters-in-law, Mary Gross and Laura Johnson.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Linda Gross, his parents, H.R. and Hazel (Webster) Gross, his son, Harold Ronald Gross, his daughter-in-law Katie Mellow Gross, and his brother, Phil Gross.

Services for Colonel Alan Gross will begin at 9:30am on Friday, January 22, 2020, at First Presbyterian Church, 4 Everett Street, Newport, RI. Burial will follow as conditions permit at the Arlington National Cemetery.

The Gross family requests any flowers be instead sent as a thank you to a healthcare worker or other caregiver in your life. We will be eternally grateful for the kindness, love, and grace countless healthcare professionals provided for our beloved “Dampa Dos” in his final years on Earth.

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