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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Judge Bruce F. Gross


Judge Bruce Frederick Gross was born in Brainerd, Minnesota, to the late Fred and Myrtle (Wohl) Gross on January 10, 1946. He was baptized into the Christian faith and later confirmed at First Lutheran Church in Brainerd. He attended Lowell Elementary School and graduated from Brainerd High School in 1964, where he was a stand-out athlete in basketball, football, and track. He was later inducted into Brainerd’s Athletic Hall of Fame. Bruce earned his degree in Physical Education from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter. Throughout college, he juggled work as a deputy sheriff for Nicollet County, participated in college athletics, and was an active fraternity member where he engaged in countless shenanigans which later served as the subject matter of his legendary storytelling. Following college, Bruce moved to Windom to start his career as a probation officer with his wife Jean (Brittany) Gross, who he married in 1967 in St. Peter. This union blessed them with two children, Krista and Brett. After six years in Windom, Bruce and his family moved to the Twin Cities where Bruce attended Hamline University School of Law and earned his Juris Doctor degree while working full-time at Stillwater State Prison.

Following law school, Bruce returned to Windom and served as the Cottonwood County Attorney for many years as well as a partner in the law firm of Ruenitz, Gudmestad & Gross, before becoming an esteemed District Court Judge chambered in Windom. He earned the respect of many, presiding over cases throughout the District, with vast knowledge of the law, courage and compassion. Judge Bruce F. Gross retired in 2012 after serving 23 years on the bench. He continued to serve as a senior judge for additional years after his retirement.

Bruce worked tirelessly throughout his career, often being called upon to preside over the toughest of cases and special appointments by the Minnesota Supreme Court. Yet, he always made time for his children, grandchildren, family, and friends. His marriage with Jean dissolved after 42 years. He later fell in love with and united in marriage with Kay Clark. With this union, Bruce grew his family and love, bringing two stepsons, Tyler and Ryan Clark, into his life.

Bruce had a passion for civic advocacy and community service. He was an inaugural member of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association (MDHA), where he chaired the statewide MDHA ethics committee and served as the chair of the local Board. He was also active in many other organizations including the Cottonwood County Fair Board, Kiwanis, Windom City Council, Windom Fire Department, Windom Ambulance & Rescue Squad, Windom Youth Council, and Salvation Army. Bruce spent many years entertaining classrooms, mentoring young minds with his storytelling and practical wisdom. Blessed with an authentic ability to connect with anyone from anywhere, Bruce never passed on an opportunity to serve as guest speaker.

Bruce was particularly gifted at connecting with children and dogs. He was an outstanding grandpa to Teegan (22), Bruce (21) and Dylan (18). They can be proud and confident as they reflect upon the life and legacy of their grandpa and how much he loved them.

Bruce had a strong faith and was an abiding servant of God. He consistently performed duties as congregational president, confirmation teacher, usher, and scripture reader for the American Lutheran Church in Windom. Later he was an active elder and chair of the personnel committee at the First Presbyterian Church in Windom.

Bruce enjoyed hunting, fishing, working on various habitat and conservation projects including planting thousands of trees. In addition to working hard, Bruce liked to have fun. He enjoyed boating on Fish Lake and visiting the “shack,” a hunting cabin shared with his brother Bernie and close friends John, Tom and Mark in northern Minnesota. Some of his most cherished memories were made gathering with family and friends, sharing an adult beverage and cooking delicious food while entertaining those he loved with his best stories and lighthearted antics. Bruce had a gift and discerning ability to connect with all he encountered in the most humble and genuine way. He shared his humanity freely. If you knew him, you loved him.

Judge Bruce F. Gross passed away peacefully on Wednesday, February 21, 2024, with family at his side, at Sanford Medical Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

He is survived by his wife, Kay Gross of Windom; daughter, Krista (Darrin) Jass of Mankato; son, Brett (Lynda) Gross of Baxter; stepsons, Tyler Clark of Madison, Wisconsin, Ryan Clark of Shakopee; three grandchildren, Teegan Jass of St. Peter, Bruce Gross of Little Falls and Dylan Gross of Baxter; brother, Bernie (Nancy) Gross of Fridley; brother-in-law, Klay (Jen) Walinga of Windom; first wife, Jean Gross of Battle Lake; and mother-in-law, Mary Lou Walinga of Windom.

He is preceded in death by his parents, Fred and Myrtle Gross; parents-in-law, Alexander and Edna Brittany; Kay’s father, Kenneth Walinga; and her daughter, Kelsey Jo Clark.

Blessed be the memory of Bruce Frederick Gross.

A Celebration of Life Service for Judge Bruce F. Gross, age 78, of Windom, will be held Thursday, February 29, 2024, at 11:00 AM at the American Lutheran Church in Windom with Reverend Pam Prouty officiating. Burial will be in Lakeview Cemetery in Windom.

A time of visitation and gathering will be held Wednesday, February 28, 2024, from 4:00 – 7:00 PM, at the American Lutheran Church in Windom.

Arrangements are under the care of the LaCanne Family Celebration of Life Center in Windom. Condolences and memories of Bruce may be sent online to www.lacannefuneralhome.com.


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