Cover photo for James Grossman's Obituary
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1947 James 2023

James Grossman

March 21, 1947 — January 18, 2023

Fairfax, CA

James Ronald “Jim” Grossman

March 21, 1947 – January 18, 2023

The archer sees the Mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with his might that His arrows may go swift and far.

__The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran

Jim was born in Doctor’s Hospital in New York City, the only child of Erwin and Herma Jacobson Grossman who emigrated to the United Sates from Vienna, Austria in 1935, narrowly escaping the Holocaust. Jim was raised in Larchmont, NY, in a home filled with family and friends, including his beloved Susanne “Susan” Grosse, who cared for Jim while his parents worked. He attended Chatsworth Elementary School and graduated from Mamaroneck High School. Jim, like his mother, Herma, was an accomplished pianist. While in high school, he was admitted to the National Music Camp in Interlochen, Michigan. He played piano, and violin in the orchestra. And he was in great demand, being muscular, as well as musical to “lift” the ballerinas during dance rehearsals.

After a summer spent in Rouen, France and traveling throughout Europe with his French “brothers,” Jim enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh, where we met in a pre-med biology lab class. His famous first line to me being, “You wear your contact lenses very well!” Within a week of my meeting Jim, his father died suddenly of a brain aneurysm. Jim was only 20 years old, and he was just beginning to connect more deeply with his father as an adult. He reached out to me to help him catch up with the lab assignments. We fell in love, and I brought Jim home to meet my family. My parents, Patsy and Sara, and my grandparents, Reodante and Maria, embraced him. My godmother, Margie, who was my “second mother” and her husband, John, lived in Oakland very near the Pitt campus, and on Saturdays in the fall, they invited us for lunch before Jim and I trekked up “Cardiac Hill” to cheer on the Pitt Panthers. Although my family had difficulties in accepting the fact that I chose to marry so young and to someone who was not of their faith and locale, love and good sense ultimately prevailed and our family bonds strengthened.

Jim had grown up with his Uncle Joe, his mother’s brother, Aunt Julia, and his cousins, Jeannie and Jackie Jacobson, who were like sisters to him. While he was in high school, his Danish cousin Gudrun “Gulli” Bjorno spent a year working in New York, and the two developed a lifelong bond. Herma’s cousin on her mother’s side, Peter Schidlof, the violist of the Amadeus String Quartet, and his wife Margit and their daughter Anmarie, were frequent guests in every city we lived in – Pittsburgh, New York, Montreal, and we spent one lovely Christmas with them in London, and visited with my mother’s gracious cousin Angelina DiPietro and her husband, Leslie Humm. Peter’s sister, Ilse, was a frequent guest at Kilmer Road. Cousins Laurence Steinhardt, violinist, and his wife Sandy Davenport and their daughter Lisa were part of our family life. Edgar and Luna Cornell, Herma’s cousins on her father’s side were included in every family Thanksgiving celebration.

Through our marriage, Jim acquired a bigger family. Mary Ann’s sisters, Patricia (Patty) and Sam Gulino and their sons, Michael and Anthony, and Paula (Dan) O’Connell and their son Dante and recent daughter-in-law, Carly, were dear to his heart. He became a nephew to my mother’s five brothers, Louis, Patsy, Julius, (The Hon.) William Franks and his wife, Lena, and daughter, Gina, and Ralph and his wife, Monica, and their son David, wife Donna and daughter Christina Franks. Cousins on my dad’s side, Sister Bernadette Carlow, Dr. Anna Marie Carlow, Michael Carlow and Dr. Regina Carlow all knew Jim. We were especially close to our cousin Bernie during our student days in Pittsburgh. Our dad’s cousin on his mother, Annie’s side, Bruce Brancato, along with the immense Brancato clan enriched our lives immeasurably.

When Ian came into our lives, our family expanded once again. Jim and I had the great pleasure of knowing Ian’s parents, Eugene and Lilith, his brother, Justin, and his sister Arielle and her husband Matt, along with stepparents Jan and James and numerous cousins in Costa Rica and the U.S.

Jim began his career in New York in foreign exchange. We loved living in New York City, first on the West Side and then on the East Side. There, we were lucky enough to meet our dearest and longest-term friends, Katya Monnet Belth and Stephen Belth, whom Jim considered his brother, as well as Janie and Sandy Goodman, whose boys David and Steven always referred to us as “Uncle Jimmy” and “Aunt Mary Ann.”

Because of his language skills (French, German and English) and his incredible work ethic, Jim was transferred to Montreal, Canada to open a new office for his firm. I was offered a position with a Canadian consulting firm, Quantum Management Services. There, we discovered more cousins, Barbara, Vivienne and Connie Meyers, the daughters of Karl and Lydia Meyers, (Karl was another cousin on Herma’s side of the family.) We became the proud parents of Amanda Gabrielle, born in Montreal on January 24, 1980.

Moving back to the US to be closer to our families, we bought Jim’s childhood home on 30 Kilmer Road in Larchmont, where we raised Amanda and always included his mother, Herma, Amanda’s Nana, in our lives. We were surrounded by an abundance of good friends and neighbors. Jim began a new career in information technology, being largely self-taught. He founded his own consulting firm, MicroDataware, and along with his partner Mark began providing software application consulting services to financial and professional firms in New York. Later, Jim joined A+E TV networks, serving as IT Manager for 13 years, where he and his team built and sustained a data support operation for over 300 employees. Jim had the great good fortune to work directly with the CEO, Nick Davatzes, who supported Jim and his team in all their endeavors. When Nick met with me as I turned in Jim’s badge and keys, he told me that Jim “was beloved” at A+E TV. When Jim and I learned in early December that Nick had passed away, our last project together was to give a gift in Nick’s memory to a library foundation Nick had founded in his hometown, Wilton, CT.

Jim’s love and generosity toward young people were particularly evident in his special connection to his daughter, Amanda, son-in-law, Ian and his siblings Arielle and Justin, our nephews, Michael and Anthony Gulino and Dante O’Connell, and to Jeannie’s sons, Gregory and Brian and Jackie’s daughters, Dana and Jessie. Amanda’s friends, particularly Ellen and Amy Latzen, Sara Plansky, Jessie and Katie Strauss, and Tania and Ana Ziegler, took the time to remind me of Jim’s help and guidance as they navigated their way from youth to adulthood. Their memories are a testament to Jim’s boundless generosity and enthusiastic interest in helping young people take wing.

Jim embraced his friends, colleagues and his family generously and without reservation. He was an accomplished pianist, and he shared his knowledge and enthusiasm of music and the famous musicians in his mother’s family with all of us. He taught me how to waltz, and we danced together to the Blue Danube Waltz at our 25th wedding anniversary celebration in the World Financial Center. Jim loved playing bridge, and he taught Amanda, Mary Ann and Ian, so we would always have a foursome. He was a very good skier – both in the water and on the slopes. He actually taught me to ride a bike and motivated me to learn to ski during our marriage. We spent many idyllic summer holidays on Long Pond, in Mt. Desert, Maine, with close family friends, Emy and Paulus Leeser. Closer to home, Jim was famous for hosting our annual New Year’s Day Open House at 30 Kilmer Road for 20 years running. Our dear family friend, Vilma Saciga, was always there to help us. The final party in that house in 2014 was highlighted by our newest guest, our grandson, Trysten.

I was asked how many foreign countries Jim traveled to. When I sat down and counted them, Jim had been to exactly 18. I, too, have traveled to exactly 18 foreign countries. Fifteen of these countries, we were privileged to explore together, and we each had three distinct countries that the other had not been to: Jim visited Denmark, Switzerland and Germany; while I visited Argentina, Russia and Vietnam.

Once Trysten was born on January 8, 2013, Jim and I made the decision to move to San Francisco to be near Amanda’s family. In April 2014, just as we were putting our Kilmer Road home on the market to move to San Francisco Jim suffered two devastating strokes. Against all odds, Jim, survived the strokes and lived for nine years determined to regain his voice and to walk again. Thanksgiving was Jim’s favorite holiday, and I’ll never forget his gratitude and determination to get better when he came out of the rehab residence to celebrate with Amanda, Ian, Trysten and me in our first home in Greenbrae on Thanksgiving 2014. When we were able to purchase our current home in Fairfax, our friend, Jeff Lawson (Danielle Ames’s husband) built accessible ramps and widened doors, enabling me to care for Jim in comfort and safety in this lovely home, with the ever-blooming and producing lemon tree at the front door.

Jim never knew his own grandmothers, Julia Steinhardt and Berta Grossmann, who perished in the Holocaust. His grandfathers both died during World War I. Jim’s own father did not live long enough to know his granddaughter, Amanda. Therefore, Jim’s grandchildren were his greatest joy and solace. I thank Trysten (10 years) for being the catalyst to bring his grandparents to San Francisco; Talia, (who will turn 7 on March 22, the day after Jim’s birthday) who, through her compassion and loving nature, formed a special bond with Jim and for Elody Julianne (1 year) who brought Jim’s beautiful smile to his face each time he saw her. Elody, your grandpa courageously held on to his life, wanting to be present on this earth for your first birthday on January 16.

Jim expressed his strong desire to his doctors that he wanted to be of help to others who were suffering from brain injuries. Since his college days, Jim instinctively knew how to care for and be with people who had disabilities. Two of his closest friends in college were Bud Keith, who was blind, and Sunday Uher, who lived with multiple sclerosis. Jim always saw these friends as people first and foremost. Through Jim’s perseverance to recover from his own disabilities, his doctors and therapists were able to achieve a number of medical and therapy milestones in working with Jim that will be benefit others who suffer from brain injury. Jim would be very happy to know that he was able to contribute to the well-being and advancement of others, during the entire course of his life.

I am grateful beyond words for those compassionate health care professionals who sustained Jim and me over the last nine years: Dr. Bertrand Vandeville, Dr. Jim Wilson, Lela Vakaloloma, Alfredo Torres, Anna Breslar, Edwin Torres, Ana Castillo and Claudia Gomez. I remember with fondness Diamond Smart, who came to give Jim his morning care on Christmas morning 2014 postponing her holiday with her own family to give this gift to us. And on another Christmas morning in 2018, our Fairfax neighbor, Paul Smith, former Fire Chief, helped me transfer Jim from his wheelchair to his bed, using the “firefighter’s carry.” I recall with gratitude Jim’s speech, occupational and physical therapists who helped him progress and gave him hope.

My dearest Jim, you are forever entwined in our hearts and souls. You have my everlasting love and gratitude for the rich and beautiful life we created together.

Mary Ann

January 30, 2023

Our family requests that if you wish to make a gift in Jim’s memory, please consider a charitable gift to one of these nonprofit organizations that were important to Jim:

The Schurig Center for Brain Injury Recovery, Larkspur, C

https://schurigcenter.org/

The Jewish Community Center of San Francisco JCCSF

https:// www.jccsf.org/

The Del Sol String Quartet

http://www.delsolquartet.com/support

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of James Grossman, please visit our flower store.

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