The return address read American Legion and the envelope was stamped Membership Renewal. Inside it read that the dues were to be sent to Schofield Gross at his address.
Whenever the dues renewal was sent, Husband Joe sent it immediately, because if he didn’t there would be a call from Scuff. After all, he was the one who got Joe to be a member as well as getting both of us to be members of the Lions Club. Scuffy was a great recruiter and he followed through with his recruits.
Growing up Riverside, I had always known who Scuffy Gross was, but it wasn’t until much later I learned who Scuffy Gross really was. He was a man who loved his town and wanted everybody to know what was great about it.
My earliest recollections about Scuffy were of him riding his bike around town. He sat tall on his bike, reminding me, and I mean this affectionately, of Ichabod Crane.
The phone would ring and even with caller ID the voice on the other end would say, “Scuff here.” His calls usually had to do with Lions Club, explaining how things had been done and should be done.
He also was a great resource for me with this column, knowing and even depending that if something was missing, Scuff would set me straight or fill in the gaps. He could always tell me the rest of the story, and I loved hearing it.
When it came to the Lions Club, he was very particular and tried to keep everyone on the same page. He enjoyed knowing who was going to be the Person of the Year and was happy with this year’s selection of Jenny White. In 2008, when I was Person of the Year, Scuff and Ralph Choutka were in charge of the planning, and Scuff kept trying to convince me the dessert should be a chocolate sundae. Well, it wasn’t, but now every time I have a chocolate sundae I think of Scuffy Gross.
Scuffy Gross passed away on July 4, a holiday he enjoyed, and his presence was felt as I thought about the tall man with the big smile and the kind words.
I once said to someone that the day would come when I would miss Scuff’s calls. Well, that day came. There will be no more calls with the voice on the other end saying, “Scuff here,” and I will miss it.