Former Great Neck Board of Education Trustee Lawrence Gross received the Lily Wang Community Service Award from the Great Neck Chinese Association on Monday night, in recognition of his 12 terms serving on the school board.
Gross served on the Board of Education from 1981 to 2017, or 36 years, currently making him one of the longest serving trustees in the school board’s 123 year history. Donald L. Ashkenase, who has served since 1982, is now the most senior member of the board.
Board of Education President Barbara Berkowitz, who has served on the school board since 1992, said Gross always worked collaboratively with the board, school, and the rest of the community to make it a better place.
“Larry Gross always promoted cohesiveness and was truly a mentor to all those who followed in his path, myself included,” Berkowitz said. “The joy of working with Larry is that he never served with any ego, or attempt at self-promotion. Decisions made by the entire Board were fair, unbiased, and with appropriate deliberation.”
The lifetime achievement award, which first debuted in 2016, was named in honor of Lily Wang, a former board member of the association.
Nathan Fong, a co-president of the GNCA, described her as “passionate about promoting community involvement, diversity, and multicultural understanding” prior to her passing in 2015 from breast cancer. Wang’s family then donated to the organization to establish the award in her memory.
“The award recipient selected should serve as a role model for compassion and service and be someone who is striving to make Great Neck a better place,” Fong said.
During Gross’ 12 terms as the board, he had served as its vice president and president for ten years each at different points. He was also the chair of the Board of Education Financial Advisory Committee from 2016 to 2017.
In addition to his board tenure, Gross was also an active member of the New York State School Boards Association, a chairperson of the United Parent Teacher Council’s legislative committee and a chairperson of STOP, a Great Neck community group which fought against the closing of several schools in the area.
Gross was not immediately available for comment on Tuesday, but has previously said he enjoyed his tenure on the board and being able to help the community.
“Over the years, I have had the extreme pleasure and honor to be involved with so many people who, each in their own way, worked to improve the quality of public education in our hometown, our state and nation,” Gross wrote when he first announced his retirement in March.