Delia Cecilia Gross, 102, homemaker


Delia C. Gross, a homemaker and centenarian, died from complications of diabetes Thursday at the Blakehurst Retirement Community in Towson, where she had lived for the past 13 years. She was 102.

Delia Cecilia Elbach was born and raised in South Baltimore. She attended the old St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church on Lee Street and its parish school.

She recalled visiting recuperating soldiers at Fort McHenry during World War I, family members said.

During the 1920s, she was a Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. operator until marrying William Holmes Gross in 1928. The couple lived for years on Windemere Avenue in the Lakeside section of Northeast Baltimore and later in Towson, before moving to the retirement community.

Her husband of 73 years, a retired purchasing agent for Baltimore Business Forms, died in 2001.

"They loved music and dancing and their favorite song was `Let Me Call You Sweetheart,' which my grandfather would sing to her when dancing," said Joanne D. Smith, a granddaughter.

In 1998, the couple were honored by Cardinal William H. Keeler at a special Mass in recognition of their seven-decade marriage.

"She never drove a car, walked everywhere and went downtown on the bus. She was always dressed like a lady, including wearing gloves. She was very prim and proper," her granddaughter said. "And she loved taking her grandchildren downtown to have lunch in one of the department stores."

Mrs. Gross was an accomplished cook whose yearly preparation of sauerbraten and dumplings was eagerly anticipated by the family.

"Nearly every Sunday, she'd come to dinner and would bring her homemade meringue shells, which she filled with ice cream and her own handmade chocolate sauce," Ms. Smith said.

For years, Mrs. Gross enjoyed summers at Stony Creek where she liked boating, crabbing and swimming. She also liked to visit Lake George, N.Y., with family and friends.

Mrs. Gross enjoyed good health through her life until being diagnosed with diabetes about two years ago.

"She ate everything but never drank or smoked, and had a great sense of humor, even in her old age," her granddaughter said.

Mrs. Gross had been a communicant of St. Bernard and Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic churches. She was a member of St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church in Cockeysville, where a funeral Mass was offered yesterday.

In addition to her granddaughter, she is survived by two sons, William H. Gross Jr. of Towson and Robert A. Gross of Lutherville; a daughter, Rita G. Davidson of Timonium; 15 other grandchildren; 29 great-grandchildren; and three great-great-grandsons.

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