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Everyday Heroes 2014

Caring about people

D-304 board president, Pepper Valley’s ‘go-to guy’ just likes to help out

Geneva School Board President Mark Grosso is seen with his dogs Dash, Tikka and Tober.
Geneva School Board President Mark Grosso is seen with his dogs Dash, Tikka and Tober.

Geneva School District 304 Board President Mark Grosso said he was truly surprised that someone would nominate him as an Everyday Hero – let alone that four people nominated him.

“I’m kind of taken aback. I do not know why anybody is interested [in] what I do,” Grosso, 64, of Geneva said. “I’m just humbled.”

Mary Stith, a fellow school board member, wrote that Grosso’s exceptional traits are being a leader, committed citizen and caring neighbor.

“Mark says he never aspired to [be on] the school board, but concerns on behalf of the community led him to run,” Stith wrote.

“Mark is committed to Geneva and believes in rolling up your sleeves and getting the job done … without being asked, he showed up at our son’s Eagle Scout project and jumpstarted the work.”

Stith and the other nominators, Richard Sturm and Bill and Sandy Nicholson, also acknowledged Grosso’s contributions to the community – as a former Salvation Army bell ringer; a volunteer at St. Peter Parish food pantry and an usher at Mass; and as a former Scoutmaster who continues to assist with Eagle Scout projects.

“He is the Pepper Valley go-to guy, assisting any and all who have needs,” Stith wrote. “I have not learned these things from Mark, but from the countless neighbors who have told me of his caring. He chooses not to talk about himself, which is the most refreshing thing about him.”

In his neighborhood, Sturm wrote, Grosso is “on call” to help out in various circumstances, “for flat tires, snow removal, car repairs, leaf and tree maintenance and general assistance for home repairs [for] seniors, families and the needy.”

Added the Nicholsons in their nomination, “Public service has always mattered to Mark — be it the school board, the Salvation Army, the food pantry, the Boy Scouts, his church and the neighborhood.”

Grosso was formerly vice president and president of the Pepper Valley Home Association Board of Governors and served on the pool and building and grounds committees, Sturm wrote.

“He voluntarily gives his heart to the citizens of Geneva, the children of the community, his church, his neighbors and friends,” Sturm wrote. 

The Nicholsons wrote that Grosso is “humble and unassuming” as he works for the betterment of their neighborhood.

Grosso was first elected to the District 304 Board in 2009 and has been president since February 2012.

He also served on the superintendent’s Boundary Task Force and the superintendent’s Facilities Task Force.

“He is respected by the entire board for bringing a common-sense approach to the job and his open, direct style,” Stith wrote. “It is no surprise that we have since chosen him as our president of the board.”

Grosso said he just likes to help out.

“I do all this because I care about people,” Grosso said. “I’ve been very fortunate in my life, and I want to give back to everybody.

“I guess I always felt if you had some skills or knowledge in a certain area, you should be able to share that with other people and help them out.”

The Grosso lowdown

Who he is: Mark Grosso, Geneva School District 304 Board president

Town of residence: Geneva

Age: 64

Family: Married, two​ children, three grandchildren

Hobbies: Hunting birds up north, riding his bike, woodworking

Fun fact: He worked for the Chicago Northwestern and Union Pacific railroads for 38 years. 

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