December 29, 2021 ~ 26 Tevet 5782
Fred Gross, 85 of Louisville, KY passed away with his family by his side on December 29, 2021. Fred was born in Antwerp Belgium October 8, 1936, to Nacha and Markus Gross. Fred is survived by his loving wife of 36 years, Carolyn Humphrey and four sons: Adam (Jennifer) of Scarsdale, NY; Marc of Los Angeles, CA; Joshua of New Rochelle, NY; and Jonathan (Lakiesha) of Louisville, KY. His love for his five grandchildren: Haley, Dylan, Ashley, Gabriel, and Miles was beyond measure. He had a special relationship with his brother – and sisters-in-laws, his nieces, nephews and great-nieces and nephews.
A child of the Holocaust, Fred’s family fled Antwerp upon the Nazi invasion there, when he was three years old. For the next several years they lived on the run and in hiding, to evade capture from Hitler’s Nazi forces. Surviving the Shoah, Fred and his family came to America when he was nine and settled in New York City. Like many families who survived the Holocaust, Fred’s family never really talked about their plight. In 1985, however, at the urging of his wife Carolyn, Fred began interviewing his mother Nacha, his two older brothers, Sam and Leo, and other family members, using the same methods that he used throughout his career as a professional journalist. From there, along with his own personal memories, and in-depth historical research, Fred wrote One Step Ahead of Hitler: A Jewish Child’s Journey through France, published in 2010 by Mercer University Press. The book has been recognized for its historical accuracy and outstanding personal story by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
For nearly twenty-five years, Fred told his family’s story to thousands of middle and high school students, community groups, churches and synagogues, universities, and military groups, across Kentucky and in several other states. Over this time, he received thousands of handwritten letters from students, many about how his story impacted their views on discrimination in their own lives. He developed close relationships with teachers and school districts who valued the impact that an actual Holocaust survivor brought to student learning. Fred’s impact on Holocaust education in Kentucky will continue to live on due to his tireless work in the passing of the 2018 Ann Klein and Fred Gross Holocaust Education Act, officially mandating instruction of the Holocaust and other acts of genocide into Kentucky’s public schools.
Fred graduated from New York University where he was the editor of the Washington Square College Evening News. His proudest moments as a professional journalist were covering the Civil Rights movement, including the protests and riots in New Haven following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960’s. With the keen mind of a master reporter Fred witnessed the upheaval of those days believing always that his writing should connect readers as much to knowledge and facts as it did to their own hearts and those of others. HIs future work and teaching would be profoundly underscored by that belief as well.
Fred was a member of the Jewish Community of Louisville’s (JCL) Community Relations Council and served as the council’s representative on the Board of Interfaith Paths to Peace for over a decade. He was an ongoing committee member of the JCL’s annual community-wide Yom HaShoah commemoration program.
Among the groups that bestowed honors and awards to Fred for his contributions to the community were the Jewish and Family Career Services of Louisville, the Jewish Community Center of Louisville, and the Kentucky Association of Counties.
Fred loved watching the news, spending time with his family, listening to jazz and watching his beloved New York Jets.
Due to the current public health concerns of the pandemic, all services are private.
Donations in his memory can be made to the Jewish Federation of Louisville and will be used for Holocaust Education, https://jewishlouisville.org/federation/donate/ Please indicate in the comments section, In Memory of Fred Gross.