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William A. Gross, builder of parks, dies at 67

William A. Gross, a Huntington resident and an award-winning civil engineer who helped construct numerous parks and ballfields, died April 30 at home after a short heart illness. He was 67.

Gross' company, William A. Gross Construction Associates in New Hyde Park, completed a monument to Brooklyn Dodgers Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese at KeySpan Park in Coney Island and performed the site work around the Unisphere in Flushing Meadow Park. The company won awards for the Prospect Park Parade Grounds in Brooklyn, the restoration of Bethesda Terrace in Central Park as well as the Flushing Bay Promenade in Queens.

"He was a self-accomplished businessman," said his daughter, Debbie Saunders of East Haddam, Conn. "He worked very hard and was known for being honest and having integrity."

Born in Brooklyn and raised in Queens, Gross had a love of sports, particularly baseball - he tried out for the Kansas City A's - that led him to the field of construction of parks and ball parks.

"He always had an eye for the engineering that goes into park construction," Saunders said.

Gross and Anna Murgul married in 1965 and raised a family in Commack. She died in 1992. In 1995, he married Marie Podgursky.

He worked for various construction companies, drawing up plans and working on engineering and designs, before attending Pratt Institute, where he graduated in 1969 with a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering. He then worked for other construction companies before establishing his own in 1980.

"One of his dreams that he realized was starting his own company," Saunders said. "He loved working with parks and ballfields and beautification of things."

The company grew from two employees to about 130 now, she said.

Gross was also devoted to his family, Saunders said, and often hosted fishing trips and outings on his boats in Montauk and Singer Island, Fla., where the family had a second home.

In addition to Saunders, Gross is survived by his wife, Marie; a son, Mark Gross of Commack, and seven grandchildren. A funeral was held May 5 at St. Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church in Greenlawn with burial at Pinelawn Memorial Park.

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