Lillian Sylvia Gross born Feb. 5, 1930, in Homeville, Penn., to the most wonderful parents, Rose and Zoltan Smooke of blessed memory, died Nov. 7, in the care of her loving family and caregiver Ebere Victoria.
Sylvia AKA, ‘Double’, a moniker she acquired from her toddler grandsons exemplified generosity of spirit, unconditional love, values of open doors and welcoming the stranger. Double grew up with her brothers and sisters, Allen, Jerry, Betty, and Fay all of blessed memory in the wild Steel Towns of Homeville/ Homestead, and finally the Oakland Neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Penn. Her father used to brag that he was a “5x millionaire” to explain how much he adored his children.
At 18, Double met and married the love of her life, Ben Gross, a Hungarian ‘Hand-Grenade’. Double dedicated her life to helping Ben and his siblings, all survivors of the Holocaust, rebuild their shattered lives. She read and wrote for him. They raised four children: Cindy, Marcie, Howard (of blessed memory) and Michael. She and Ben were a team and she learned quickly how to manage a household and be a Lady Kosher butcher. Together they operated Ben Gross Kosher Meats on 5th Avenue in Pittsburgh into the late 1950s.
In time, Ben joined his brothers at Albee Homes in Youngstown, Ohio and traveled the country while Mom dedicated herself to holding down the fort. In 1963, Ben accidentally boarded a plane to Atlanta when he meant to fly to Atlantic City to open a model home. He looked around and the brothers decided to invest in exurban real estate. In 1967, the family finally moved to Atlanta. Double persevered through the ups and downs of economic peaks and valleys managing the family finances while never losing her warmth and sense of humor. She always made sure that the kids had money in their wallets and there were charity dollars by the front door even when money was very tight. She was a great family finance manager with only a high school education.
Double exemplified loving kindness (Chesed) and created a warm and welcoming home in Atlanta. She taught us the importance of visiting the sick and elderly, community involvement in meaningful ways that did not always attract attention, and she showed us the value of volunteering with a smile.
She really loved bowling with her dear friend Helen Gerson (of blessed memory) and they delighted in telling all about their high scores and gutter balls. They loved their bowling league teammates and made every effort to attend the end of season parties.
Double was a lifetime member of Na’amat and served as President of the local chapter many times. She was named an Atlanta Jewish Federation Woman of Achievement and was an honoree of SOJOURN for her dedication to supporting the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.
Lillian Sylvia Gross was predeceased by her husband Ben, her beloved son Howard, and her sisters and brothers she adored. She is survived by Cindy Solomon, Marcie Koffler (Barry,) Michael Gross (Bryan) and Cathy Gross (Howard z’ll.) She will be missed by her beloved Grandchildren Max (Jennifer,) Aaron (Chanyl,) Lucy (Michael,) Zak (Luca,) Micah (Jason,) and Caleb (Margalit,) and the lights of her life great grandsons Charlie Hugo Gross and Pax Anic-Koffler. Funeral services were held at 2 p.m., Nov. 8 at Crestlawn Cemetery.
There will be a hole in our hearts, but we will forever carry with us her spark, her love of life and people, and the kindness she taught us was so important to creating lasting connection with others. We love you Double. Dressler’s Jewish Funeral Care, 770-451-4999, www.DresslerJewishFunerals.com.