Robert M. Cross,88: a veteran, man of letters

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BRUNSWICK — Robert M. Cross, 88, died on July 15 in Brunswick. Born in Augusta on February 10, 1924, to Leroy D. and Muriel F. (Garvin) Cross, he graduated from Brunswick High School and enrolled at Bowdoin College in the fall of 1942.

Cross served in World War II as a technician for a code-breaking unit of the U.S. Army Signals Intelligence Service, stationed in North Africa and Italy.

Following the war he returned to Bowdoin and graduated in 1947 as a member of the Class of 1945, summa cum laude, and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. At Bowdoin he was a member of the track team. He received a master’s degree in English from Harvard University in 1948.

He married Jeannette Steele in July 1948.

Cross taught Latin and algebra at Cape Elizabeth High School, before joining the English Department at Bowdoin in 1950. In 1953, he began working in the college’s alumni office, where he edited the alumni magazine and The Whispering Pines newsletter. He served as secretary of the Alumni Fund from 1959 until 1983, when he was appointed Secretary of the College, a position he held until his retirement in 1990.

Over the course of his career, he acknowledged hundreds of thousands of gifts to Bowdoin with a handwritten signature and a personal note. In 1972, he received the Alumni Award for Faculty and Staff. In 1989, Bowdoin awarded him an honorary doctor of humane letters degree.

He was a member of First Parish Church in Brunswick UCC, where he served as a deacon, historian and clerk over the years. He organized class reunions for the Brunswick High School Class of 1941, and enjoyed sharing in the lives of his many friends in the community and in the Bowdoin family.

Jeannette and he were Maine state track officials for many years, and an award in their name is given annually to a member of the Bowdoin women’s track team who displays outstanding qualities of loyalty, sportsmanship and character.

He is predeceased by his brothers, Donald L. Cross and Kenneth L. Cross, and by a grandson, Ethan R. Barton.

Cross is survived by his wife, Jeannette; a sister, Marjorie C. Buschner, of Holyoke, Mass.; son Peter M. Cross and his wife, Candace, of Orange, Mass.; daughter Suzanne C. Barton and her husband, Robert, of Westbrook; son John R. Cross and his wife, Leslie, of Brunswick; his grandchildren Emily T. Cross, Eben S. Cross and his wife, Meridith, Anna C. Barton, Lauren T. Cross, and Audrey L. Cross; and many nieces, nephews and cousins.

A memorial service was held July 23 at First Parish Church in Brunswick. Memorial contributions may be made to the Cross Family Scholarship Fund, Bowdoin College, 4100 College Station, Brunswick, ME 04011-8432, to First Parish Church, 9 Cleaveland St., Brunswick, ME 04011, or to the charity of your choice. Arrangements are under the direction and care of Brackett Funeral Home, Brunswick.

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Robert M. Cross