Jerome A. Gross

Certified Public Accountant Was Founding Partner Of A Baltimore Firm That Grew To Employ Nearly 100 People

November 24, 2009|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

Jerome Abraham "Jerry" Gross, a certified public accountant and a founding partner of the Baltimore accounting firm of Gross, Mendelsohn & Associates, died Nov. 16 of pancreatic cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

The longtime resident of the Dumbarton neighborhood of Northwest Baltimore was 75.

Mr. Gross, who was born in Baltimore and raised in the 3800 block of Reisterstown Road, was 15 years old when his father died.

"He grew up poor," said a son, Kenneth Gross, of Baltimore, in his eulogy for his father at services that were held Wednesday at Sol Levinson & Bros.

"When other children went home from school each day, he went to work. He had jobs delivering Jewish newspapers and fish, the latter not wrapped up in the former, and would turn the few dollars he earned over to his mother to help support the family," he said.

After graduating from City College in 1951, Mr. Gross worked during the day while at night attending the University of Baltimore, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1955 in accounting.

Mr. Gross did not vary his pattern and while holding a day job studied law at night at the University of Baltimore Law School, where he earned his law degree in 1959.

He became a certified public accountant in 1956, and four years later passed the Maryland Bar examination.

Mr. Gross was working at a local accounting firm when he and his University of Baltimore classmate and friend, Martin S. "Marty" Mendelsohn, decided to go into business together.

"We actually met at law school and we were both practicing certified public accountants at other firms and were earning law degrees as an adjunct to our accounting expertise," said Mr. Mendelsohn, who lives in Pikesville.

"So, we decided to purchase a small accounting firm and went into business on Oct. 1, 1960, in the Equitable Bank Building. It was just the two of us and a secretary. Today, we have close to 100 people in the practice," he said.

By 1963, the firm moved to larger quarters in One Charles Center, and since 1973, Gross, Mendelsohn & Associates, a general accounting firm that also specializes in tax work and auditing, has occupied a floor and a half in Charles Center South at 36 S. Charles St.

"Jerry was a great guy who had an extremely quick, agile mind, one of the most agile minds I've ever encountered," Mr. Mendelsohn said. "When computers came along in the early 1970s, he went out and purchased a Radio Shack model and taught himself computer programming. It was Jerry who brought us into the computer world."

Mr. Mendelsohn described his longtime partner as a "Type A personality."

"You'd never describe Jerry as easygoing. I'm more laid back and we complemented one another. There was a different symbiosis between us, but we understood one another," he said.

"He got along well with clients and they came to depend on him. In many ways, he became an unofficial partner with them," Mr. Mendelsohn said.

Howard H. Moffet, a partner in the accounting firm since 1993, described Mr. Gross as the "consummate professional with core values of integrity and honesty."

"Jerry was a true businessman for his clients and when it came to running the practice. He was high-energy, people-oriented and believed in client service," he said. "He was focused on doing a first-class job for the clients and treating everyone the right way."

Herbert Blumenfeld, a retired accountant who had been a partner in J. H. Cohn, a Manhattan accounting firm, was an old friend.

"Jerry's reputation in the business was outstanding. He had standards, and he held to them," said Mr. Blumenfeld.

"He was a man who was gifted with a great sense of humor and an incredible curiosity, and it showed in terms of his personality," he said.

Mr. Gross had coached his son's Little League teams and years back built and flew radio-controlled airplanes.

"He got out of that hobby when a plane he had spent six months building disappeared on a flight in New Jersey," said his wife of 49 years, the former Linda Zelda Shor.

He was a member of the Suburban Club where he enjoyed golfing and playing tennis. He also was an avid traveler.

Active in his community, Mr. Gross had been president of Community Housing Assistance Inc. and had been a board member of Northwest Senior Center, Zionist Organization of America and the Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

Mr. Gross was an active member of Beth Am Synagogue.

After retiring in June, Mr. Gross was diagnosed two weeks later with the pancreatic cancer that eventually claimed his life.

Mr. Gross was "excited about his retirement. He had plans to paint, create pottery, take courses, travel and spend time with my mom," his son said in the eulogy. "But it was not to be."

Also surviving are three other sons, Andrew Gross of Baltimore, Steven Gross of Washington and Mitchell Gross of New York City; and eight grandchildren.

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