Bob Gross spent more than three decades telling the stories of athletes of all skill levels in mid-Michigan.
And he left a big mark doing that.
The late former Lansing State Journal sports writer will be honored for his work Thursday evening when he is formally inducted into the Greater Lansing Area Sports Hall of Fame.
Gross covered sports at the LSJ for 34 years before he was murdered in June of 1996. He was 59. He made an impact on many during his long career. Gross was posthumously honored with an Eddy Award at the Greater Lansing Honor Roll meet and received many other honors for his contributions to sports.
“He was really interested in all the surrounding schools in Lansing and all the young players,” said Gross’ older sister, Marilyn Losey. “He always had great respect for the young heroes as well as the overshadowed players. He just encouraged them all. He wrote about their families and he was just a family-oriented guy. He even stopped to talk to maybe the guy taking tickets, the guy selling the soda pop or whatever wherever he went.
“He was just a great guy. We were very proud of him.”
Gross, who was a native of Weidman, always had a passion for writing and sports, according to Losey. He learned the craft at the weekly paper in his hometown before moving on to what was then called the Mount Pleasant Daily Times. His career began in Lansing in 1962 and he developed strong connections with area coaches and athletes during his final career stop.
Longtime area cross country and track coach Kim Spalsbury remembers Gross being very personable and having a deep passion for all high school sports.
“Bob was all about promoting prep sports,” Spalsbury said. “There are stories in prep sports that aren’t positive. I know that. I don’t know if Bob ever wrote an article that wasn’t generally positive about the personalities that he covered in sports.
“Bob was just very special all the way around. He was just a wonderful, down to earth human being who respected the human aspect of the stuff he was covering and did it very well.”
Losey said it was more than just Gross’ writing ability that resonated with people.
“He always had a smile for everybody and could talk to anybody,” Losey said. “Everybody liked Bob.”
Contact Brian Calloway at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.
Greater Lansing Area Sports Hall of Fame
What: 41st Greater Lansing Area Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony
When/Where: Thursday at the Lansing Center; dinner is scheduled for 5:45 p.m., followed by the ceremony at 6:45.
Admission: $35 (Reserved seating only, no ticket sales at door). Go to lansingsportshalloffame.org or call Bob Every at 484-0677.
Sponsors: Magic Johnson Enterprises, Dean Transportation, Auto Owner Insurance, Applegate Home Comfort, Dan Henry Distributing and Two Men And A Truck.
Race fundraiser: The Run for Fame 5K/10K Run/Walk will be July 31 in Lansing. Entry details at playmakers.com.