USA– NH– The victim of a brush fire in Andover was identified Friday as a man who spent much of his life in public service.
Officials said Donald Gross, 65, died of smoke inhalation, and Thursday’s fire was ruled accidental.
Gross had served as chief of police in Nashua, and the current chief remembered him as a big guy with a big personality.
“His fellow police officers loved him,” former Mayor Bernie Streeter said. “He was the epitome of a good chief, and this came as a big shock to all of us.”
Streeter was mayor of Nashua for eight years and worked with Gross when he was chief of police from 2000 to 2004. He said Gross was a man who loved the department and the city.
“He was always available,” Streeter said. “Some chiefs sit in their office, but Don Gross never sat in his office. He was reachable. You could call the Police Department, and he would answer the phone. Just an all-around good guy.”
Gross retired to Andover when he left the police force, but continued to serve the public as a selectman.
“He was a huge presence in the town,” Town Administrator Marjorie Roy said. “He was someone who cared about his friends and neighbors. Everybody considered him their friend.”
Gross was a one-term selectman who stepped down in 2013. Roy said he loved the small-town atmosphere.
“He had great business advice for young people who were starting businesses in town,” Roy said. “He’d make it a point to seek them out.”
“He did nothing but try to promote the community,” said his friend, Dan Bezon. “Anybody that met him, he tried to help.”
Andover town officials said they plan to meet to talk about a possible memorial service.