John Charles Gross, 91, of Madison passed away peacefully Sunday, Sept 24, 2023, at Bethel Home in
Madison. Funeral services have been set for 11:00 a.m. October 13 th at the United Methodist Church,
Madison with visitation beginning at 10:00 a.m. with the family and a lunch to follow.
John was born Dec 25, 1931, on his grandfather’s homesteaded dairy farm, Ash Grove, located five miles
north of Madison to Ellwood and Esther (Hodges) Gross. The dairy was Lake County’s first and served as
creamery, general store, switchboard and post office for the area. He attended Downs Country School
and General Beadle High School, graduating in 1950 where he was a four year three-sport letterman. At
SDSU he went on to play football until a serious knee injury ended his football career. As Student Body
President, he drove the Bummobile in the Hobo Day parade and graduated from the School of
Agriculture with degrees in Dairy Production and Animal Husbandry. There he met his future wife, Millie
Hammer of Franklin Township and they were married June 26, 1955 in the Madison Methodist Church
where he was a lifelong member.
In Lennox, he taught Ag on The Farm, a govt program to train veterans on farming until Millie’s father
passed away and they moved back to Madison to help manage her family’s farm. As a salesman for
Farmland Industries, he sold feed and fertilizer in SE South Dakota. He returned to his dairy roots as a
Classifier for the Natl Holstein Assn where he traveled the U.S. and many foreign countries classifying
herds and presenting papers he wrote on the future of the industry. He served as a director on both the
SD and National Holstein Association Boards. Other boards he was proud and honored to serve on were
SD Fertilizer Board, Madison Community Hospital, SD Conservation Committee, USDA-Farm Service and
SDSU Foundation. He owned many genetically sought after registered Holstein cows and bulls and
shipped embryos from the females around the world. As a lifelong Jacks fan and dedicated alumni, he
and Millie founded several perpetual scholarships, providing funds for many students in sports,
agriculture and family and consumer sciences. His support funded the Embryo Transfer program at the
Dairy Research and Training Facility. He also received two of SDSU’s highest awards as Eminent Farmer
for his achievements with the Holstein breed of cattle in 2008 and SDSU Distinguished Alumni in 2005.
Over the years, he enjoyed talking to visitors at Prairie Village Jamboree in the Gross General Store that
was moved there from the family farm in 1977, always expecting to find something in common through
conversation with anyone he met. Friends and family members shared his love for car shows, golfing (he
had 2 hole-in-ones), hunting and especially the many fishing trips to “the river” and Alaska.
John is survived by his wife, Millie, of Madison; daughter Kathy (Jim) Dreesen, Excelsior, MN; sons Allan
(Julie) Gross and John (Sheila) Gross both of Madison; nine grandchildren – Jack Dreesen, Bloomington,
IN; Sunni Lyn Gross, Brookings; James Dreesen (Kerri) Chanhassen, MN; Lauren (Luke) Burke, Lakeland,
FL; Jessica (Colin) Birkeland, Sheyenne, ND; Lindsey (Colby) Liston, St Pete, FL; Mitchell Gross, Arlington;
Ally Gross, Sioux Falls and Dillon Gross, Yankton; and nine great-grandchildren – Brooks and Jordan
Dreesen, Delta and Lucy Burke, Cashton, Haisley and Renley Birkeland, Millie James and Blair Liston.
He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers Emerson, Kenneth, Wallace, Gordon and Lawrence
Gross and sister Viola Zoodsma. Condolences may be sent to the family at 1023 S Egan Ave #C Madison,
SD 57042. Memorials can be made to the Madison United Methodist Church.