Donald Gross, 64, Albert Lea

Published 1:36 pm Saturday, June 25, 2011

Memorial services for Donald L. Gross, of Albert Lea, will be held at 11:00 a.m. Thursday at Grace Lutheran Church, Albert Lea. Interment will be in Lakewood Cemetery. Friends may visit with family one hour before services at the church. Don died June 23, 2011, at the age of 64, from melanoma metastasis to the brain.

Donald Gross

Donald Louis Gross was born April 12, 1947, in Carroll, Iowa, to Edward and Rose (Schmitz) Gross. When Don was 2, his family moved to a farm in Hayfield.

He graduated from high school in 1965, where he was a starter for the basketball team. He graduated from Augustana College in 1969 and received his master’s degree in education in 1978 from Mankato State University.

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Don was united in marriage to Jeanne Holthe at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Pine Island on Oct. 22, 1971. They were blessed with two children: Sheila Calderon and David Gross, and two precious grandchildren: Axel and Aidric.

Don retired in 2003 after 34 years of teaching fourth and fifth grades in the Albert Lea School District.

Don began collecting toys in the 1970s and this hobby became his passion. He was the founder of the annual Tiger City Toy Show at the Northbridge Mall, and had just completed the 21st year this February.

He also started the Plaza Farm Toys in the Skyline Plaza with partner Bob Fjelbroten and participated in other toy shows in the area.

Don loved helping farmer Brad Bjerke with farming, which he enjoyed throughout his retirement.

Don was an active member of Grace Lutheran Church where he was a past church council member and was currently serving on the Grace Foundation Board. He also was an active member of the Freeborn County Historical Museum.

Don loved life and was always busy. He could fix almost anything and loved finding old toys, especially for his 3 1/2 year-old grandson, Axel. He was a great husband, father and grandfather. He touched many people and will be greatly missed, especially by his family.

Survivors include his wife, Jeanne; daughter, Sheila (Bryan) Calderon and son, David Gross; grandchildren: Axel and Aidric Calderon, all of Albert Lea. Also brothers: John (Pat) Gross of Medford and Bill (Sheree) Gross of Sioux Falls, S.D.; mother-in-law, Gladys Holthe of Zumbrota; brother-in-law, Francis Langenfeld of Hastings; and sister-in-law, Cynthia (Robert) Berge, of Montevideo; nieces and nephews, and many friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents; sisters: Carol Langenfeld and Gloria Jean Gross; nephew, Bill Langenfeld; and father-in-law, Obert Holthe.

Memorials are preferred to the Don Gross Scholarship Fund at Grace Lutheran Church.