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Maurice Grossman (1927-2010)

Jim Burroway

January 22nd, 2010

Maurice GrossmanThe world is full of cheerful, unsung heroes. One of them passed away this morning and Tucson is a bit less cheerful for his passing.

Maurice Grossman, a former University of Arizona art professor, died this morning following heart valve replacement surgery. He was 82.

Born in Detroit, Michigan in 1927, he became an educator and ceramic artist in Arizona. He studied at Wayne State University and earned an MFA at Ohio State University. From 1955 to 1988, he was Professor of Ceramics at the University of Arizona in Tucson after founding their ceramics program. I came to know him during the campaign to try to defeat Arizona’s Prop 102. He was just one of those guys who seemed to know just about everyone, and no one he knew could ever be an enemy.

Last October, he was selected to be the Grand Marshal for Tucson’s Pride parade. (Tucson holds its parade in October as a concession to the typically scorching 105+ degree summer temperatures.) The UofA’s Arizona Daily Wildcat featured Maurice’s honor with a good description of his  journey:

Grossman was a UA professor from 1955 to 1989 and started the three-dimensional arts program in the Art Department during that time. “I’m very proud of what I accomplished and am still acknowledged when I’m on campus,” Grossman said. “I loved my students; I love teaching. In a way I’m still teaching.”

Grossman said he lived the first part of his life trying to determine who he was. He got married in his 20s, and had two children with his wife, who died in 1978.

“Like most gay men, I was trying to understand more about myself,” Grossman said. “At that time, in my 20s, I met a very beautiful and lovely woman and we fell in love.”

Though he was married and in love with his wife until she died, Grossman said he knew he was gay before then. In 1978 Grossman became more politically active in the gay community. He volunteered with Wingspan and Stonewall Democrats in Tucson. He waited a few years before he told anyone he was gay.

“When I told (my children), they knew; they said, ‘we’ve known for years,'” Grossman said.

Grossman said there was no real fallout or loss of friendships because of his revelation.

If you had the pleasure of knowing Maurice, you’d understand why.

The thing that impressed me about him is that he didn’t think to bother about slowing down. Age was an occasional nuisance but never a hindrance. And nothing was going to get in the way of his good cheer. He remained very active in the LGBT community and in the local arts scene. The Dinnerware Gallery in 2007 threw a fifty-year retrospective for him to coincide with Maurice’s 80th birthday.

There are a lot of sad people here in Tucson today.



January 22nd, 2010 | LINK

Whenever I saw Maurice out and about he was always cheerful and encouraging to others. He had a very positive outlook on life. He will be missed.

January 22nd, 2010 | LINK

I met Professor Maurice at the Dinnerware Gallery in 2007. I was quite familiar with his work but after meeting with him, my appreciation for his art grew much larger because he was a wonderful and charismatic man. He lit up the room and everyone that had the pleasure of meeting him that night, clearly respected him as an artist and as a person. He will be missed but his legacy in his art will remembered.

-Maurizio Maranghi

David Wachter
January 22nd, 2010 | LINK

He was a delightful man who seemed to find people delightful. We saw him at numerous events over the years (even a couple of times in San Diego at their pride parade), and he always seemed full of energy. We saw him earlier this month at a party, and it’s hard to believe that he’s gone now.

January 23rd, 2010 | LINK

Ditto-ing Homer.

I knew him from years at Wingspan.

joyce smith
January 23rd, 2010 | LINK

thank you for this beautiful tribute to maurice.

i am one of the very, very sad people here in tucson today.

my best memory of all the nice ones is the time maurice & i went around the tucson peace fair around 5 years ago diving into trash & recycling bins looking for aluminum cans; they were donated to a no-kill kitty shelter.

he was that caring.

perhaps in his memory you’ll consider collecting empty cans for casa de lost gatos?

and please also consider working with tucson’s stonewall club to make it, and the az dem party, a more progressive, powerful and proactive force in this crazy place, to honor his memory? we know that strengthening the democratic system was very close to his loving heart.

the winter sun is a bit paler today with our loss.

Michael Jack Shoel
January 23rd, 2010 | LINK

Maurice was a legend and an inspiration. This is such sad news! I think of him often and appreciate his humorous sharing of his life experience as a gay man, I appreciated the example he set living and sharing the joy of life. He was kind enough to make a brief appearance in my first film production (Eating Out) which was shot in Tucson, I always thought his charming character shined during that moment and I’m grateful that he was able and willing to be a part of it.

gayle gale
January 24th, 2010 | LINK

A inspiring man, artist, teacher, humanist, activist and full of life!

” What is lovely never dies..but passes on into stardust, flower, sea foam or winged air”

He mentored so many like myself who were fortunate to study with him at the U of A.
I feel so blessed I was able to visit him and his studio a few months ago.

He will be missed. May his spirit live on within all of us!

Gayle Salmon Gale
Class of ’74

January 24th, 2010 | LINK

Maurice was indeed a kind person and lived an amazing, compassionate life! I feel so fortunate to have interacted with him on various occasions based on our friendship through the Gay/Lesbian Mediatation group at Three Jewels in Tucson the past two years. One Sunday morning Maurice led a powerful Zen Style Tea Ceremony, based on his experiences in Japan as a Fullbright Scholar decades prior. He was deeply commited to his spiritual practice and his internal sense of peace and awareness shone through as he shared his realizations in philosophical discussions. May his soul be in a higher realm!

Susan Hilts Brown
January 25th, 2010 | LINK

I remember Maurice’s smile from my childhood. My parents were huge fans of his ceramic creations, several of which I gave them as gifts. They will always be a reminder of a kind, funny, generous man who worked so hard for the benefit of the LGBTQ community in Tucson.

I saw him more often in the last five years than in the previous 20, marveling at his energy and dedication as he worked tirelesly on campaigns to improve the quality of life for all people in the community.

Maurice wll be sorely missed, but fondly remembered. I know he can’t wait for the party which is surely to be held in his memory.

Martha Angel
January 25th, 2010 | LINK

Me & my son Aaron are two sad people in Austin.
A joyful light has left the world.
Let’s all let the light he shared with us, shine thro’ us.

Nolan Wright
January 26th, 2010 | LINK

I would sign as “crying in Carbondale,” but I know if Maurice was here he would point out something beautiful, funny, or both, and urge me to redirect my energy in a positive way. A truly lovely man.

Kyle Ipson
January 31st, 2010 | LINK

I lost a huge part of my life last week! Maurice, you know you were loved! Peace

February 15th, 2010 | LINK

Sitting here gazing lovingly at an amber statue of Quan~Yin,thanking her & Amida for the wonderful “spiritual inheritance” Maurice has left us…
“Namu Amida Butsu,” Hap!
the sadness of our separation is balanced by the happiness you so selflessly shared!

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