Friday, May 29, 2020


Arlene Barbara Cohen Gross, December 3, 1931 – May 13, 2020

Arlene Cohen Gross died from complications of COVID-19 and dementia on Wednesday, May 13, 2020 at Hartwell Place, a memory care residence in Chicago, IL. She was born in New York City on December 3, 1931 to Simon and Yetta (Shammis) Cohen. Arlene and her husband Jerry were long-time residents of lower Grand Street in Croton-on-Hudson, NY.

Arlene grew up in the Bronx, New York. She was in the first class of girls accepted to the Bronx High School of Science in 1946. Unfortunately, due to family circumstances after the death of her mother, she left the Bronx High School of Science, moved to Long Island and graduated from Patchogue High School in 1949.

She returned to the city to attend Hunter College, graduating in 1954. Arlene went on to teach in public school in Brooklyn, followed by a stint in library sales at E.P. Dutton where she was introduced to her future husband Jerry Gross, an editor at Ace Books, on a blind lunch date. Married on June 2, 1957, as was typical for the time, Arlene was asked to resign so she would not share any “trade secrets” with her new husband.

Caught up in the women’s movement in during the 1970’s, Arlene was a member of NOW, wrote movie reviews for The Women’s News of Westchester (NY) County, and took her teenaged daughter to pro-choice and ERA rallies in White Plains, NY. Arlene attended Sarah Lawrence College and earned her MFA in Theater in 1975, then taught film making in several schools in Westchester before joining the group sales team at The Westchester Dinner Theater. Later, she and her husband formed a Literary/editorial agency, Gross Associates.

Arlene was active in the American Association of University Women, serving in many capacities in the northern Westchester chapter of AAUW for more than 25 years. She also volunteered with the Croton Shakespeare Festival; was active in Women in Sales; and was a long-time member of the Westchester Feminist Fairytale Circle. A lifelong Democrat, Arlene supported many liberal causes ranging from the ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, Planned Parenthood, and NARAL. During a particularly heated battle to close the county dump at Croton Point Park in the 1970s, Arlene and a number of other environmentally conscious citizens physically blocked garbage trucks from entering the park.

Devoted to her family, Arlene was preceded in death by her husband of 57 years, Jerry (Gerald). She is survived by her beloved sister, Paula Weiss; children Alison (Annie Avery), Adam (JJ Caruth), Seth (Fiona Kuong); grandchildren Grace and Lily Avery-Gross and Aidan and Amelia Gross; brother and sister-in-law, Larry and Elaine Gross; nephews Drew (Deborah) Weiss, Larry (Carol) Weiss, Brett (Nhung N Moncaobư) Gross, and niece Iris Gross Shedlock (Frank), and many adored great- nieces and nephews.

Arlene’s ashes will be buried alongside with her husband’s in Bethel Cemetery in Croton-on-Hudson, NY. A virtual celebration of her life is being planned. 

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Chicago Methodist Senior Services, the Alzheimer’s Association of Illinois, the American Association of University Women, or Planned Parenthood.

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