SOUTH THOMASTON — Raymond Emerton Gross, retired publisher of The Courier Gazette of Rockland, died Dec. 7, 2014, of congestive heart failure, following a period of rapidly declining health. He is survived by his brother, Richard H. Gross of Augusta; his children, Michael Gross of Mashpee, Mass., and Martha Hawley of Worcester, Mass.; and his grandchildren, James and David Gross, and Jeremiah and Shane Hawley.
He was predeceased by his first wife, Esther Proctor Gross; and his second wife, Gertrude Black Gross.
He was a Christmas baby, born Dec. 25, 1928, to Emerton C. and Edwinna Conley Gross in Camden, and had a long and distinguished career in the news business. He began in 1950 as a “copy boy” at the Lewiston Daily Sun; spent five years at WRKD Radio in Rockland as news director and on-air announcer, and moved to The Courier Gazette in 1963, first as news editor and retiring as publisher in 1991. For more than 20 years, he was "The Black Cat," writing a weekly column filled with the goings on around Midcoast Maine, and filling it, from time to time, with stories of his children and his travels. It was a column not to be missed each week.
As a young man he was a Star Scout, and served as a Coast Watcher from the Mount Battie tower during World War II. Valedictorian of the Camden High School Class of 1946, and serving as its president twice over the years, he attended the University of Maine and was a member of the Class of 1950.
During his years with The Courier Gazette, he was extremely active and served in a variety of leadership positions of state, regional, and national newspaper organizations. He was a member of the International Society of Professional Newspaper Editors, past president of both the Maine Press Association and the New England Press Association, and served as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Newspaper Association, representing New England for seven years. He rose to serve as its vice president, chairing several of its committees, including its annual Government Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C.
Throughout his career, he was repeatedly honored for his leadership, most notably being named to both the Maine and New England Press Association's Halls of Fame. He was recognized by the Rockland Area Jaycees with their Distinguished Service Award, named Member of the Year by the Rockland Area Chamber of Commerce and given the Vernan McFadden Award for distinguished service by the Eastern Maine Development District. Ray was named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Rockland Rotary Club, and took great pride in maintaining perfect attendance with that organization for over 40 years.
His great love of music filled his life. He took great pride in being a charter member and past local president of the Windjammer Chorus, and past district officer of what was then called the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America. He was a member of the Suncoast Statesmen Charlotte County (Florida) Chapter as well, and sang tenor in a number of quartets throughout his lifetime. He was named Barbershopper of the Year by both the Northeast District and the Knox County/Midcoast Maine Chapter of the Barbershoppers Society. He was recently awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Windjammer Chorus, Midcoast Maine Chapter.
Extremely active in local organizations, he served as president of many including: The Rockland Area Chamber of Commerce, Rockland Jaycees, Rockland Rotary Club, and Rockland District Nursing Association. He was the founding President of both Kno-Wal-Lin Home Care and Hospice and Tanglewood 4-H Associates. He was a founding member and former chairman of the Knox County Regional Airport Advisory Committee. He was a charter member and past president of the Mid Coast Development Corporation, and spent 10 years on the Revolving Loan Committee of the Eastern Maine Development Commission.
He served as an incorporator of Androscoggin Savings Bank and was a director of the Maine Publicity Bureau.
Ray served the Episcopal Diocese of Maine in a number of volunteer capacities, chairing committees, and lending his voice and expertise where needed. He was a communicant of the Episcopal Church of St. John Baptist in Thomaston and served on the Vestry of St. Peter's Rockland for many years. He took numerous leadership roles including junior and senior warden and church treasurer. He and his wife, Esther, led the Church's Youth Group for years. Early in his life he served as warden in both St. Michael's Church in Auburn and St. Thomas Church in Camden.
He was active as a 32nd Degree Mason; a member of the Rockland Lodge of Masons; the Scottish Rite Bodies KORA Temple Shrine; and Midcoast Shrine Club.
A funeral mass will be held at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Rockland on Saturday Dec. 20 at 2 p.m. The family welcomes all to gather in the adjoining Parish Hall immediately following the service.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that gifts be made in his name to, Tanglewood/Blueberry Cove Gift Fund, Attn: Patty, One Tanglewood Road, Lincolnville, ME 04849.
Arrangements are in the care of Burpee, Carpenter & Hutchins Funeral Home.