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Samuel T. Grosso — an exceptionally kind and honorable man — passed away on April 16, 2020 at his home in Williams Bay with his loving wife and daughters by his side. He devoted his life to relationships with family and friends, learning, business endeavors, and helping others. Sam was a man of integrity who lived by his advice to always “try to do the right thing.”
Born in Sicily, Italy, Sam was two years old when he immigrated to Chicago, the city he would forever call home. He, his parents, and his four siblings had a rich family life. They frequently gathered with their large extended family and Sam often worked with relatives professionally in later years. Growing up, Sam enjoyed meeting his friends at the playground, playing sports, and applying his sharp intellect to question teachers and learn about the world around him. He began reading the sports section of the newspaper and then took an interest in the front page, sparking a life-long passion for politics.
Sam attended Steinmetz High School before graduating from Northern Illinois University in 1968 with a major in Business Management and a minor in Accounting. He paid for his college education by working in demolition and manufacturing. It was not until his mesothelioma diagnosis more than 50 years later that Sam realized these summer jobs likely exposed him to asbestos.
After college, Sam taught grade school in the inner city while attending law school in the evenings. He earned a J.D. in Law from IIT Chicago Kent and was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1974. Sam was known for bringing people together at parties and lakeshore volleyball games and during those years he developed friendships that lasted a lifetime. He loved living in the city, frequently patronizing local restaurants and theaters and taking long walks.
“Always try to learn something,” Sam would often say. He was very intelligent and particularly knowledgeable about world history and geography. Sam also enjoyed discussing scientific theories and the origins of words and things. He had a remarkable memory for numbers and facts. A self-described Anglophile, Sam had a deep appreciation for British history and its influence on U.S. legal and political systems. However, his Italian roots were evident in his lively gesticulations and love of pasta.
Following law school, Sam worked at the American Hospital Supply Corporation and Walter E. Heller & Company, specializing in corporate, federal, and international tax law. After leading seminars in his corporate work, he went on to teach Business Law courses at community colleges. Then he joined his brother in the travel industry.
As Vice President of Hobbit International Travel, Inc. and President of New Beginnings Tours, Inc., Sam took pride in being a fair, hands-on manager and embraced many opportunities for adventure. He had fun sending customers on tours, including “Mystery Tours” which led travelers to a surprise destination. Throughout his life, Sam traveled to almost every state and across the world to five continents.
Sam was an entrepreneur at heart. Since law school he maintained a private practice utilizing his legal, accounting, and business management skills. Over the course of forty years, he owned and managed several rental properties and was involved in various small business ventures.
In 1986 Sam met Pat at a Lake Shore Ski Club meeting and they married two years later in Hawaii. They enjoyed living in Chicago and admiring the view of Lake Michigan from their condo. After welcoming their daughters, Tara and Heather, into the family they moved to Roselle, Illinois. While Sam continued to have opportunities for free travel, he never went on another optional trip because his favorite adventures were at home.
Being a father was the highlight of Sam’s life. He wholeheartedly loved and nurtured Tara and Heather, encouraging their learning and finding joy in their growth. Sam delighted in making his daughters smile and creating games to play together. A feminist known to repeat himself, Sam could regularly be heard listing the accomplishments of women. He worked hard to give Tara and Heather an excellent education and countless opportunities that enriched their lives. Sam was always ready to practice sports, read, cook a meal, discuss homework, and give unsolicited history lessons. Throughout his life, Sam also became a cherished father figure to some of his daughters’ friends and some of his tenants. He was eager to compliment people and let them know that he believed in them.
Sam consistently put his family’s needs and wishes first. He had a grounded, easy-going nature and would instantly drop everything to help, listen, or make his loved ones feel special and adored. If something was important to his family, Sam would lovingly overcome any challenge to make it work. After living in Roselle for ten years, Sam did not hesitate to support the family’s move to Williams Bay, Wisconsin in order to help Pat’s aging parents. The depth of his selfless service and devotion was limitless.
Sam cherished time with his family. They enjoyed playing board games and tennis as well as going for walks together. Sam appreciated their summer vacations with relatives in northern Wisconsin as well as their trips hiking through mountains, admiring waterfalls, and exploring cities.
An exceptional husband and father, Sam said that he was most proud of his family. He gave his wife and daughters a foundation of unconditional love and heartfelt encouragement that will forever support them as they create their own paths through life. He would want his family to view each life experience as an adventure.
When Sam was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in September 2018, he met this challenge with steadfast optimism and determination. He was admired for his positive attitude and commitment to improving his health. Even in his final days he continued treatments and strived to complete his projects despite great difficulty. Sam’s unwavering will to live and optimism that he would beat the odds were a testament to his strength and appreciation for life. He died from mesothelioma about one and a half years after his diagnosis. Sam’s kind heart, gentle spirit, and devotion to his family were palpable until the day he died. His love was an honor and blessing to many people who will carry it with them throughout their lives.
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure, which is the leading cause of work-related deaths globally and results in more than 39,000 Americans losing their lives each year. Over 50 countries have banned asbestos, however it is still legal in the United States. About 125 million people throughout the world continue to be at risk of occupational exposure to asbestos. The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation is a nonprofit collaboration working to end the devastating effects of mesothelioma. You may honor Sam by supporting their mission at curemeso.salsalabs.org/tributepages/p/samgrosso. In addition, signing the “Ban Asbestos in the US Now, Without Loopholes or Exemptions” petition to the EPA on Change.org may spare others from developing the preventable cancer that ended Sam’s life.
Sam brought his graciousness, sense of humor, and gratitude to those who helped him along the way. The family would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to his relatives and friends as well as the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment, Aurora Health at Home, and Dr. Bhushan and his staff.
Sam is survived by his loving wife, Pat (Conlon); his “two favorite daughters,” Tara and Heather; as well as his cherished siblings Dan (Anita) Grosso, Paul (Mindy) Grosso, Esther (Skip) Skeggs, and Dave (Karen) Grosso. He was a caring brother-in-law to Mike (Patty) Conlon, Bob (Cindy) Conlon, Cathy (Jay Howell) Conlon, Kevin (Claudia) Conlon, and Tom (Tammy) Conlon. Sam is also survived by many dear cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Concetto and Maria (Gandolfo) Grosso; his sister, Esther Grosso; and his dog, Kayla Grosso.
A celebration of Sam’s life will be scheduled at a later date. Steinke-Lazarczyk Family Funeral Home and Cremation Services of Lake Geneva, WI is proudly serving the Grosso family.