Obituary of Oscar Gross
Oscar Gross, 96, of Lodi, California, passed away peacefully at home, moving on to his heavenly home on October 22, 2023. He was born on March 8, 1927, to Gottlieb and Anna Gross in Mintschuna, Bessarabia (Romania), the youngest of four children. He grew up on a large farm. Oscar lost his father when he was only 2 years old. His mother sold a portion of their land so he could attend the "Gymnasium", a higher level of education, which was quite an accomplishment in those days. Oscar's family lost everything after they were forced out from their home and land when the Russians arrived. He continued his early education in Krems, Austria, followed by agricultural school in Poland.
In 1944, at the young age of 16, Oscar was drafted into the German military. A few months later as the war was coming to an end, Oscar was captured by the Russians and put into a coal mine prison camp in Poland, never seeing the light of day for two years. He believed he was going to die there unless he found a way out. Oscar devised a plan in which one night he and his best friend would leap from the coal mine elevator shaft in pursuit of freedom. He knew if this one attempt failed, he would be killed as so many others had been before him. His plan was successful and the two of them fled during the nights and slept during the days. Towards the end Oscar was being carried by his friend due to painful sores on his feet. A Polish lady risked her own life by taking them in, hiding them and nursing Oscar back to better health. This angel was later taken care of by him financially for the rest of her life. Oscar's incredible life story is detailed in his book "The Leap''.
After Oscar's escape and his knowledge that God helped him survive, he made a conscious decision to dedicate his life to his Lord and Savior. He entered the seminary at St. Chrischona near Basel, Switzerland, for four years. During one of his pastoral duties in Germany he met the love of his life, Elsa. At that time he didn't even know her name.
Oscar came to America in 1955 with only one suitcase filled with his belongings. As he had no money, the Red Cross in New York provided him with a one way Greyhound bus ticket to California where he had family in Galt. It was here that he couldn't forget the beautiful girl he had met in Germany. He wrote to her father and asked for his permission to write to her. Oscar and Elsa began a long distance relationship that led to their marriage in 1958 and a lifelong love story. They celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary on June 6 of this year.
Oscar and Elsa dedicated their lives to serving others. They started Gross Convalescent Hospital in the late 1950's with a handshake loan from F&M bank. A few years later Oscar decided to attend nursing school in Sacramento in order to become an RN so that he could help his patients more than just being the administrator. After years of being a qualified long-term health care administrator and having fulfilled the professional requirements for advancement within the College, Oscar was awarded a Fellowship in the American College of Health Care Administrators. In 1977 Oscar and Elsa established the River Garden Retirement Home in order to offer further care for the elderly. It was there that he built his Chapel of the Cross, where he would hold weekly worship services along with the services at the convalescent hospital. In addition, Oscar broadcast "The German Church of the Air" on radio for all the German speaking people in the western U.S. During these 20 years he never asked for any donations for his ministry outreach. For all his services, Oscar was awarded the "Verdienstkreuz 1. Klasse" by the German Federal President at the German Consulate General in San Francisco in 1988, Germany's highest service honor.
Oscar was the most wonderful husband, father, and Opa. He was so loved by his family, his friends, and many in the community. He also had a very loving, close relationship with Elsa's family. Oscar was a deeply religious man who lived each day for his Lord. God, his family, and serving others were his priorities. He only thought of others, never himself. Oscar enjoyed watching his grandchildren's sporting events, reading, music, gardening, the mountains and traveling with his family, whom he loved greatly.
Oscar is survived by the love of his life, Elsa, his loving son, Dietmar "DJ" Gross, his loving daughter, Karin Rogero (Dr. Grant) and their sons Dr. Ryan Rogero and Cameron Rogero, and son Paul Gerhard Gross (Jeannette) and their daughters Brittany Lisea (Tyler) and Allison McEachron (Micah) and 2 great grandchildren. Oscar was preceded in death by his parents, two sisters and one brother, and two half-sisters.
Oscar/Papi/Opa is greatly missed and will be in our hearts forever. We know we will see you again in heaven.
"I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.''
We would like to thank Dr. James Hoff and his staff for the years of compassionate care, Vitas Hospice and their wonderful employees for all their help in his final few weeks, and Dr. Rolando Simeon and the Wound Center staff for their care. We would also like to thank Mark Cimino and his employees at River Fountains for their gracious help in times of emergency. Oscar was a deeply spiritual man and, therefore, we would like to thank Pastor David Hill for his visitations and Pastor Mark Price of St. Paul Lutheran Church for his ongoing spiritual guidance.
A Celebration of Life will be held at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 701 S. Pleasant Ave. on Monday, November 27 at 12:00 noon. Reception will follow in Morton Hall.
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Memorial donations can be made in Oscar's memory to: St. Paul Lutheran Church, 701 S. Pleasant Ave. Lodi, CA 95240 or Vitas Hospice, 16956 S. Harlan Rd., Suite 2F, Lathrop, CA 95330.