BY ANGIE JACKSON firstname.lastname@example.org
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Jeff Gross’ distinguishable laugh could be heard across Long Lake, where he lived with his family.
He’d spent his free time around the lake, visiting buddies or driving his boat. His wife, Angie, often knew where to find him by the sound of his laughter.
“Wherever he went, he was the center of attention,” Angie Gross said.
Gross, 47, knew Long Lake “inside and out.” He died there on his snowmobile Sunday, after he struck a tree on an island.
Family said foggy, rainy conditions awaited Gross as he headed home from a friend’s house after a night of playing pool. His friend, who heard the crash and ran to check on him, said he did everything he could to brake, Angie Gross said.
Gross was a little kid in an adult’s body, family members said. He’d playfully pick on his two daughters — Amanda, 17, and Abigail, 15 — telling his youngest that when she got her first boyfriend, he’d join on dates to embarrass her.
“We couldn’t get him to stop talking,” Abigail Gross said.
Gross lived for speed, whether he was driving his car, boat or snowmobile. He had a competitive nature and craved an adrenaline rush.
“I always worried that something like this might happen someday,” Angie Gross said of the accident.
“He said I would always have the support of all his friends,” she continued, scrolling through her phone and saying she’s received more than 60 Facebook messages of condolences from his friends. “He had a lot of friends because he was a good person.”
The tragedy that struck the family this year has been “unreal,” Angie Gross said. At the end of February, Gross’ brother was slain in Saginaw. Gross was the youngest of three siblings and is survived by his sister.
“We’ve had a lot of cries,” Angie Gross said.
Co-workers at American Waste, where he drove a tractor-semi trailer, are devastated, too. General manager Mark Bevelhymer recalled Gross as constantly smiling with a positive attitude.
“He was always friendly and caring and was a joy to be around,” Bevelhymer said.
Angie Gross said her husband was “just fun.” He’d wear pink on a wine tour to get a chuckle out of others. His big laugh, that no one could imitate, will be missed.
“I’ll miss hearing him coming through that front door and teasing my girls. It always made me laugh when he made them laugh,” she said.
A viewing is set for Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Reynolds Jonkhoff Funeral Home. A service will be held Thursday at 11 a.m. at Saint Patrick Catholic Church.