Music has been a part of Bob Gross's life for as long as he can remember. He began playing the French horn at age 9, and he continues 60 years later. He enjoys being able to share music with others, and has done so by playing his instrument in various local bands and serving as a music director.
For his contributions to the arts, Gross was chosen as an inductee to the Lodi Community Hall of Fame.
Other inductees this year include Mark Armstrong, who has managed the Lodi Grape Festival for 18 years, for his contribution to agriculture; Thomas Peterson, who served as Lodi city manager and was involved in the revitalization of Downtown, for his contributions to government; Michael Stokes, the owner and operator of Stokes Brothers Farms who has played an active role in agricultural groups, as rising star; Sally Snyde, who serves as the president of the board of the World of Wonders Science Museum and led the effort in opening the museum, for her contribution to community service; and Elmer Kludt, who helped establish the Boosters of Boys and Girls Sports Organization and was active with the local Salvation Army, where he served on the board of directors for many years. He was nominated posthumously by Junelle Osterlie for his contributions to community service.
Gross was employed by Lodi Unified School District for many years, where he served as a teacher, vice-principle, principle and district coordinator of instrumental music. In 1975, he began organizing the Grape Bowl Classic Band Review. The event was a part of the 1976 bi-centennial celebration. It was a way to bring high school bands into Lodi and to showcase them, as well as provide funding for the Lodi High School band. He wanted to create community awareness of high school bands, and thought it would be a good event for the children to be involved in. He feels it's important to promote music for children because it teaches self-discipline and helps develop critical thinking skills. Unlike sports, it is also something they can do for their entire life.
"A lot of them go through school and college and then continue as adults. It's a lifelong endeavor," he said.
Marilyn Field, a friend and co-teacher with Gross, said he was an excellent educator and attributes his success to the fact that he is always concerned about the welfare of an individual and wanting to see people succeed.
Gross has played the French horn in the Delta College Winds, the Stockton Concert Band and the Lodi Community Band, where he also served as music director for five years. He has also served on the board of directors for the Lodi Community Concerts Association.
His support of local bands and music groups stems from his desire to keep live performances popular and to give people the means and place to play their instruments. Since music has been in his life for so long, he enjoys being able to share his talent with others.
"It has been a way for me to make people happy," he said.
Carol Marvel, a friend and co-band member who nominated Gross, feels he deserves the nomination due to his loyalty to music in the community.
"He really wants to push music as a form of entertainment for everyone, as a learning form for children and as a pleasure for adults who participate," she said.
Throughout his 37 years in Lodi, Gross has served on the Lodi Veterans Memorial Plaza Board and the Salvation Army board of directors. He has also served as a past president of the Tokay 4-Wheelers, the Lodi Civitan Club and the Lodi Sunrise Rotary Club. While serving in the Rotary Club, he has been involved in providing hot dog lunches for the Boy Scouts who collect Christmas trees, and providing bicycles to less fortunate children. Most recently, he played a part in putting benches in at Woodbridge School. He enjoys serving the community for the personal satisfaction he gets.
"I get a good feeling from helping others," he said.
Gross was born in Los Angeles and was raised in Bakersfield, where he graduated from East Bakersfield High School. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in music in 1966 and then a master's degree in 1982, both from the University of the Pacific. He has been married to his wife, Helen, for 47 years.
Gross said he was both humbled and pleased when he found out about receiving the award.
"It's nice to be recognized for efforts. I do try to stay involved," he said.
The Hall of Fame is sponsored by the Lodi Boys and Girls Club. Inductees will be honored at a dinner and program scheduled for Nov. 5 at the Boys and Girls Club headquarters, 275 Poplar St., near the corner of Stockton St. Cost to attend is $45. To make reservations, call the club at 334-2697.