Artsy Thespian Nests in Historic Norcross

Artsy Thespian Nests in Historic Norcross

Multi-faceted Bob Grossman performs, facilitates art, and tutors children to round out his productive ‘retirement.’

After 37 years with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and now with the AJT, , Jaffe’s focus is lifestyle, art, dining, fashion, and community events with emphasis on Jewish movers and shakers.

Last year, Grossman, left, co-starred in the Lionheart Summer Children’s production of “The Princess and the Pea.”
Last year, Grossman, left, co-starred in the Lionheart Summer Children’s production of “The Princess and the Pea.”

Some might question why Bea and Bob Grossman would settle in historic Norcross for retirement. “If you had suggested that six years ago, it would have been unimaginable,” Bob explained. “After exploring Santa Fe, Austin and Sarasota, Bea heard about a new development of craftsman-styled homes centered around a 60-year-old vineyard within walking distance of historic Norcross. After seeing the property, we were sold and were the first to settle in Adams Vineyard. We love it here and have never looked back!”

The Grossmans enjoy the activities and the close-knit community there and serve on city boards such as the Norcross Public Arts Commission, which assists in procuring city art. Examples are a large historic mural of famous people and things from Norcross and a mosaic sculpture depicting the Eastern Continental Divide that runs right through Norcross.

Then there is the “Tumblefield Mural,” depicting foxes frolicking on an old warehouse building. Recently a brew pub leased the building and changed the name of their company to Social Fox Brewing after liking the building and its art, ultimately locating its business there.

Bea Grossman admires Norcross art that Bob helped the city select and execute.

“Norcross has the feel of a modern-day Mayberry,” Bob continued. “Wednesday mornings people meet at the 45 South Cafe for People Drinking Coffee to host guest speakers and share community events. It has become very popular, providing connections to neighbors.”

The Grossmans have been members of Dunwoody’s Temple Emanu-El for 27 years. “Truthfully, we are not as far out as many think,” he said. “With close proximity to Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, we can get to the MJCCA [Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta] in 15 minutes and 20 minutes to the synagogue. However, there are a relatively small number of Jewish residents in Norcross compared to our next-door neighbors in Peachtree Corners or Dunwoody.”

Bea Grossman has served as co-chair of the Book Festival of the MJCCA. Bob volunteers at the local elementary school, tutoring students in reading and math.

“Since I speak Spanish, it has been particularly helpful in a school whose demographics are about 75 percent Hispanic,” he said. “A large percentage of students have parents who don’t speak English. When kids leave the classroom, they are at a significant disadvantage. I do my best to help fill in the gaps.”

As a young man at the University of Maryland, Bob caught the “acting bug” when he took the leading role of the Tin Man and later as the Lion in a production of “The Wizard of Oz.” He recalled, “I was definitely an oddity as I was not a theater major, but wound up becoming involved heavily in children’s theater — even touring and performing for elementary schools around the state. After college, a theater professor sought me out to collaborate on a pilot for a new children’s television show for the ABC affiliate in Washington, D.C.

“I hosted an educational entertainment show ‘Zep’ that followed the ‘ABC Afterschool Special.’ We hired a 16-year-old gifted puppet maker and puppeteer who went on to receive widespread acclaim creating Elmo for Jim Henson and ‘The Muppets.’”

Retiring from a pharmaceutical career five years ago, Bob, now 70, wanted to get back into theater. He has done community theater and some interesting side roles in film. His favorite was the lead character, a very neurotic Jewish male, Allan Felix, in Woody Allen’s “Play it Again, Sam” as part of Fireside Players troupe.

He was involved in a musical parody group at Temple Emanu-El, The Dixie Shticks, performing at venues such as the Roswell Cultural Arts Center. Today remnants from that group perform the Purimspiel at Temple Emanu-El. He also performed as King in “The Princess and the Pea” in the 2019 summer children’s theater production in Norcross at Lionheart Theatre.

“Virtually all of my volunteer activities came to a screeching halt with COVID,” he said. “Adding to the disappointment was the cancellation of two international trips to Colombia and a cruise to COVID-19 ‘hot spots’ Italy, Spain and France. In an effort to be productive, I volunteered again to be on the AJFF [Atlanta Jewish Film Festival] Evaluation Committee and enrolled in The Great Courses. I also took a course in contact tracing. Fortunately, NPAC has started up again after a four-month hiatus, providing me an opportunity to look for more viable art to enhance the city.”

read more: