Greg Gross

Columbus’ activist community lost one of our long-time social justice advocates when Gregory Gross, 66, passed unexpectedly in his sleep on August 13, 2023.

Gregory was originally from New Jersey and his family resides there. He studied here at Capital University in 1977 and shortly after, made Columbus his home. He rode his bike everywhere he went, to work and to all the activist events in the city. He often rode for charities such as the American Cancer Society (he was a survivor) and the American Diabetes Association. Another passion was jazz, and he often played sax with a local jazz band. He loved animals, owning several cats. If anyone remembers his apartment on Duncan, the ceiling was covered with homemade models of the Star Trek Enterprise.

Community Festival awarded Gregory as an Honored Comfest Volunteer in June 2022, as he spent most of the 3-day festival each year since the 1980s working security. The Columbus Free Press also honored Gregory with a Volunteer Award in 2017 for his decade-long tenure on the Columbus Institute for Contemporary Journalism Board and being a dedicated distributor. While he worked at a catering job, he consistently volunteered to bring hors d’oeuvres to all Free Press events.

Gregory became an activist when Reagan was elected, starting by joining the American Atheists and local humanist organization. In the early 1990s, Gregory co-founded the Central Ohio Green Education Fund (COGEF) in Columbus. COGEF worked against the “Mobile Chernobyl,” when radioactive waste was going to be trucked through Ohio. After that project succeeded in halting that effort, COGEF helped in the fight against trash burning power plant on Columbus’ south side, that was successfully shut down in 1994. Gregory and COGEF held Earth Day celebrations in Columbus and “No Chemical” New Year’s Eve parties for many years at the Third Avenue Church. COGEF also held several Citizens Grassroots Congresses through the years. Gregory most recently served as President of the COGEF Board that operates the WGRN 91.9FM community radio station.

Free Press Editor Bob Fitrakis and Gregory took a weekend road trip together sometime in the 90s in Bob’s Camaro to Rainbow Farms’ annual Hempfest, that was sponsored by the Free Press. “Greg partook in the Cannabis Cup Smoke-Off to rate the best bud,” Fitrakis reminisces, “On our way back home, we were pulled over cops in rural Indiana, but managed to avoid arrest. Greg was a friend and a dedicated ally in so many of our efforts to make meaningful change in central Ohio.”

Fellow Free Press Board member Mark Stansbery said, “Gregory Gross exhibited grace and caring for the community in all he did, I saw him last about a month ago at work while eating a breakfast sandwich. He stopped his busy day to say hello. Long live Gregory Gross - rest in power; we will try to live up to your standard of community first.”

NOTE: A Celebration of Life for Gregory Gross will be held during a WGRN community radio event on Monday, September 11, 2023 from 5-8pm at Eldorado's, 4968 N. High St.