November 23, 1941 – February 5, 2024
It is with love, grief, and honor that we announce the death of Richard Harrison Gross, age 82,
in Tullahoma, after a very recent diagnosis of advanced pancreatic cancer. Richard touched
countless lives through his relentless generosity and expertise. May we honor him through
selfless service to others.
Richard was born on November 23, 1941 in the Bronx, NYC, NY. He graduated from Lake
Worth High School in 1959, Palm Beach Junior College in 1961, and the University of Florida in
1962. He earned his Master’s degree in Botany from the University of Florida in 1963.
Richard’s greatest loves in life were his dearest wife of 60 years, Susan, his beloved dogs,
collecting and sharing geodes, and “Dad jokes”; but perhaps his greatest talents were as a
teacher and photographer. Richard taught college for 38 years, including 25 years at Motlow
State Community College. He taught Biology, Microbiology (for the nursing program),
Environmental Science, Geology, and developed and taught the for-credit photography courses
at Motlow during his tenure. His excellence in teaching was recognized by countless students
and a string of awards and recognition including the Outstanding Conservation Educator Award,
the Motlow Teaching Excellence award, and a national teaching award. He served as chairman
of the Tennessee Board of Regents Faculty Sub-Council and as President of the State
Conference of the American Association of University Professors. He was a champion for
students and faculty throughout his career.
He was active in many professional societies, and co-founded the Tropical Orchid Society in
West Palm Beach, FL in 1967. He bred and named several orchid varieties in the early 1970s.
He was a professional-level amateur photographer, learning basics from a portrait photographer
in his early 20s, and then self-learning and teaching all the way through the Photoshop era. His
photographs have been published in many college textbooks and several national magazines,
including Rock and Gem.
Besides being a devoted husband, father, and college professor, he spent much time working
with elementary students. He was a “Visiting Wizard” with the Tullahoma Hands 0n Science
Center and served on its Board of Directors, as well as exhibiting photographs and geologic
specimens at the Center. He taught children’s enrichment classes at Motlow in geology, biology,
and model rocketry. He had a great love of and respect for the natural world and science and
took every opportunity to share this with others.
As an active member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Tullahoma, he helped in leadership and
teaching roles. One of his greatest sources of joy was cooking special meals for the clients of
The Skills Development Program of Tullahoma.
He is survived by his wife, Susan, his daughters Julie and Paula, his grandchildren, Sonny and
Harrison, and great-granddaughter Tzipporah. He was preceded in death by his mother, Phyllis
Romano Hatcher, his sister, Lois Hatcher Cheek, and his father, Joseph Harrison Gross.
A celebration of life service will be held at Trinity Lutheran Church. The date of the service will
be announced later.
Online condolences may be made at www.davesculbertsonfuneralhome.com.
Daves-Culbertson Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.