Nina Louise Stark Gross, 100, passed away October 6, 2020 at Cranberry Center, a rehab facility in Monroe Township, New Jersey.
On the 19th of February 1920, Nina was born on a 100-acre farm in Pioneer, Missouri. She was the seventh of eight children, Wayne, Lois, Lena, Fred, Juanita, Grace, and AnnaNelle born to Lewis and Nelle Stewart Stark. Her youngest sister, AnnaNelle, currently resides in the midwest. Nina married Jacob Conrad Gross in 1942 in Reno, NV hours before he left for the Asiatic Pacific Theatre of Operations. He returned in 1945. For four years, they lived in Bell Gardens, California before returning to New Jersey. They raised their two daughters, Karen and Linda in the home that Jacob built in 1950 in Hamilton Township, NJ. Her husband Jacob passed away in 2007, and she continued to live in the home they built together until her death, as she had always wanted.
Nina was loved deeply by her husband Jacob. While he was stationed in Oahu, Hawaii during World War II he would write to her daily. She kept the more than 500 letters he wrote to her. Frequently, he would include poems in his letters. Here is one of those poems that is a perfect example of his devotion to his wife at the beginning of the 65 years they spent together.
“Love” by Jacob C. Gross
When people ask, “Who is love to me?”
I always answer, “Nina Louise.”
For her eyes are as blue as the seas
And her laughter and voice like that of the breeze.
Again, they plea, “Have you no other reasons than these?”
I reply, “Yes, but I fear you will not stay to hear,
For I cannot tell you in a day.”
It will always be this way.
The best things in life is a wife,
so LOVE to me, is but thee, Nina Louise.
Family was a high priority for Nina. You would frequently hear her boasting about her grandchildren or her great-grandchildren and she loved hearing from them and seeing pictures of their lives.
Nina loved to share her talents with not only her family but also with others. She was an exemplary seamstress, piano player, and singer. For seven years she and Jacob went to a local nursing home every Thursday with a program of songs and a story to share (with props). She was an excellent dancer, an amazing gardener, and a phenomenal cook. Most of all, she loved to entertain. Her front door was always open for a planned or unplanned visit. Everyone she met was warmed by her hospitality.
Reuse, recycle, repurpose could have been her mantra. She could find a use for every little bit of anything she came across (and make it look fabulous). She always looked her best… if she didn’t have a coordinating piece for an outfit, she would create one herself. She would craft clothing, accessories, gifts, hats, ornaments, you name it! Creativity was second-nature to her.
Her faith was a key part of her life. Reading the Bible, going to church, and her daily devotions were important to her. She looked forward to Sunday church services. But, also, her faith was modeled in her everyday behavior. She was generous to family and strangers alike and was a true example of what it means to live a Christian life.
Nina is survived by her sister AnnaNelle Erickson, daughter Karen Gierman, son-in-law Fred Gierman; grandchildren Keith Rinker (Shea), Katrina Gierman, Jennifer Rogers (Fred), Hilary Gierman (Barbara), Katie Templeton (Joshua), Benjamin Riniker (Clarence), Mark Gierman, Laura Perry (Shawn); great-grandchildren Victoria, Luke, Rachel, Elysia, Peter, Sydney, Brenna, Jack, Rebecca, Hannah, Lillian, Leah, Andrew, Ryann, Grayson, Logan, Miriam, Jackson, Henry, Charles, Jacob, and James. Nina was predeceased by her husband, Jacob Gross, and her daughter, Linda Riniker (Dale). Many nephews, nieces and special friends will miss Nina.
The sentences Nina wrote in 1997 to her daughter Linda after her passing are words we could use today as we reflect on the loss of Nina. “Our grief is deep, but oh the happy memories are many. What you have left us with and the lives you touched make us so proud. We thank God for the years we were with you.”
An invitation-only ceremony will be held at the Brigadier General William C. Doyle Veterans Military Cemetery in Wrightstown, NJ where Nina will finally join her beloved husband, Jacob. A memorial service will be planned for mid-2021 where all who are able can come to celebrate Nina’s life and legacy.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Baptist Camp and Conference Center 79 Blossom Hill Rd Lebanon, NJ 08833 with “Roberson Dining Hall” in the memo line.http://www.camplebanon.com
Written four days after their wedding on August 20, 1942:
August 24, 1942
My dearest wife,
Sailing the ocean blue, reminds me of you. You would love a trip like this, but under different circumstances - for the sea is really blue, almost as blue as your eyes. How can I look at it, without thinking of you. For is not blue our favorite color?
I am so happy that you became mine, even if we only had a few hours together, truly the most wonderful week of my life. After this job is over, there will be many such weeks. Yes, every day of our lives will be beautiful and full of love and laughter.
God has been good to me to give me such a sweet little girl as you.
I never realized how good people are and how kind and thoughtful they can be until last week. If it were not for them, we may not have found our new happiness. My only wish is that you are and will always be the same… even if I am not there.
Keep smiling and in your happiness others will find - life is not so bad, even with the trouble the world is in. I cannot express how I feel for you. Now that we are one, our love is beyond doubts or foolish thoughts, our faith and love is as strong as life itself.
How sweet and beautiful is the feeling of living for each other, and the knowing that we belong to each other forever and forever.
Life has just begun for us, but if it is short - we have lived. But I know we shall live again. We have so much to live for. I thank God over and over for giving me a person like you, to share and live life with.
Goodnight dearest one, sweet dreams - your Jack
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