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Charles Gross, 73

Charles F. Gross, 73, of St. Louis Park, MN, passed away July 28, 2022.

He was born July 5, 1949, to Babette and Morton B. Gross.

The family mourns the passing of Charles (Charlie) Francis Gross. Preceded in death by his former wife, Borden Bell; and his mother and father, Babette and Morton B. Gross. Survived by his brother, Hal and special friend Jan Levinsohn Milner; and cousins, Sue (Mrs. Alvin Zelickson) and Connie (Mrs. Myron Samovitz).

Charlie had an extraordinary career as an educator with the Delano Public School System, Delano, MN, where he taught for 34 years. His lectures enlightened students and fostered an understanding of history and geography through his classes, which in certain cases were college level, his courses on western civilization in particular. 

In a recent letter, his former principal stated “You liked and respected your students, believed in their potential, inspired their learning with lessons that were well-planned, yet spontaneous. An early user of technology and aware of trends in teaching. Most of all, you mastered the art of the lecture.”  This made his classes popular.

Charlie’s other passion was fastpitch softball. He coached the young women of both Delano middle and high schools. And later, in retirement, he coached the women of the St. Louis Park Fastpitch Association and high school softball program.

He took his Delano teams to the Wright County conference championships 13 times and had 10 state tourney appearances. During his career, he coached 19 all-state players, 15 all-star event players, and three Hall of Fame players.

Charlie himself was elected to the Minnesota Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2011.

He was an early supporter of the Minnesota Lynx WNBA team, attending games each season, long before their rise to the championships.

Upon retiring, Charlie returned to his childhood home in St. Louis Park. He became an active member of the block, bringing neighbors together with contact lists and occasional block events, which have become a tradition. He created a beautiful garden at his home, complete with a fountain and waterfall he designed and maintained.

At this time, by personally researching, he learned women’s fastpitch in St. Louis Park was only partially meeting Title IX standards by not having softball fields for the women’s program equal to the men. He approached the city council and the mayor’s office to consider this, offering plans for the use of the fields over by Aquila Park in St. Louis Park. He worked with joy on this with both the city council and city staff.

After a couple of years, he was able to help secure a “flipping” of the two fields, creating a dedicated field for both St. Louis Park High School and the St. Louis Park Fastpitch Association teams. With the help of the council and a close association with the parks and recreation department, the two fields were redesigned for the women.

There is still more to accomplish, but Charlie got the process moving. It gave him enormous pleasure in his retirement to work with the St. Louis Park teams as a volunteer coach, focusing on training and skill development, from 2014 until two weeks before his death.

Charlie loved music of all kinds and was a lifelong drummer. He was a band member in the 60’s with a group called “The Shires,” who performed around the Twin Cities at high schools and colleges. He was a big fan of “girl groups” of the 60’s and later, and an enthusiastic admirer of the “wall of sound” and producer Phil Spector.

Charlie received his Bachelor of science in education from Drake University and his master of arts from the University of Minnesota. He graduated from St. Louis Park High School in 1967.

Charlie’s humor, patience, innate kindness, and extensive knowledge of both world and local history was a fascination to those who knew him. He delighted in taking friends and family on “touring” drives of both Minneapolis, MN, and St. Paul, MN — creating wonderful tales of how these cities were founded and built — using his knowledge of both geography and history to inspire. 

His loss is deeply felt and is enormous to those of us who knew him.

Charlie requested no funeral. Memorials gifts should be directed to: 

The St. Louis Park Fastpitch Association, 3700 Monterey Drive, St. Louis Park, MN, 55416 www.slpfastpitch.org.

Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, 1615 L Street NW, Suite 430, Washington D.C. 20036
www.curemeso.org or direct to mbutler@curemeso.org.

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