Beth Gross


Photo courtesy of Rev. Qiyamah Rahman


Beth Gross
Date unknown – February 23, 2024
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta

and Thurman Hamer Ellington UU Church, Atlanta

Beth Gross, born Mamie Elizabeth Kline, was a daughter and mother, a vibrant force for positive change, and an active member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta. In past years she was a member of Thurman Hamer Ellington UU Church, an intentionally diverse congregation in Atlanta. On February 23rd, 2024, Beth spread her wings. She was one hundred and one years old. 

Beth was a talented individual with multiple skills. She was equally comfortable with her hands in the dirt or in white gloves. She could lay the tiles, wax the floors, and dance everyone under the table. She could fix the plumbing, pack the lunches, and organize the teach-in. Beth valued fighting injustice with progressive optimism, co-creating with nature, and fostering love and dignity in the human community. Among her many accomplishments, she helped establish a clinic for poor children in Brooklyn, volunteered for Planned Parenthood, was a founding member of one of the first Head Start programs in New York, and effected positive attitudes toward diversity in the middle school community through programs she initiated as president of the PTA. Beth provided a solid foundation for her four children and was a part-time teacher of science and English as a second language.

After moving to Atlanta, she lobbied for humanitarian causes at the state capital in Georgia, taught water aerobics, advocated for senior services and the rights of seniors, and helped at-risk mothers find strength to build better futures for the next generation. Some of Beth’s creative spirit was channeled in her stained-glass work and her beautiful flower arrangements. She made flowers bloom and gardens grow wherever she lived. She graced the world with her beautiful voice. 

In her youth in the mountains of East Tennessee, Beth learned from her elders, through their courage and eloquence, how to make a way out of no way. She was a sharpshooter with a rifle, she led her church choir, and she followed the family tradition, graduating as valedictorian from College Hill High School. She attended Fisk University where she earned her bachelor’s degree in science. 

Beth moved to New York and was hired at Mount Sinai to work in embryology, a field she had studied at Fisk. But she encountered racism when that job was suddenly unavailable. She recalls how she called upon her courage and told them, “The NAACP might have something to say about this.” One researcher, impressed by her spirit when he heard of the incident, insisted on hiring her. From this Jewish ally, she learned hematology and began her work at Mount Sinai Hospital. 

In New York, Beth came of age amidst the vibrancy of post-World War II Harlem, attending jazz clubs, rubbing shoulders with forward thinkers, and absorbing the great works of social justice warriors, philosophers, and movers and shakers in art, theater, and music. It was there she met Robert who was a young Jewish musician fresh out of Juilliard. Her dream was to become a doctor; his was to make it as a jazz musician. Instead, they raised a family. They chose to remain in the north where their mixed marriage was legal, eventually integrating an all-white neighborhood and continuing the fight for racial equality.

An adventurous spirit, Beth traveled the world with her sister, Irma. She remained active well into her nineties. Near the end, she missed her sisters and dreamed often of seeing her parents.

The loving daughter of Alice and William Mack Kline, Beth was the last of her generation. She was preceded in death by her siblings, Rita, Jones David, James, Eloise (“Weets”), and Irma. As she takes her place among the ancestors, she leaves behind four children: Pamela Rachel Gross, MD, Gail Kline Sulmers, MD, Robert Kline Gross Esq and Nina Shaun Gross; eight grandchildren: Anna, Teri, Toni, Dee Dee, Justin, Ryan, Ahanu and Mabi; four great grands and sixteen nieces and nephews (members of the Klines, Merediths, Grosses, Sulmers’, Banerjees, Cohens, Bouchards, Kahns, Nesbys, Caviness’, Coffers, O’Dells, Collestans, Meeks’, Higgins’, Ballards, and Clayborns).

She will be remembered and honored for her extraordinary presence. May her spirit soar.