Wilbur Cross

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Wilbur L. Cross, III, age 100, died March 4, 2019.  Wilbur Lucius Cross III, 1918 - 2019

Wilbur Lucius Cross passed away peacefully in his sleep on March 3, 2019, having celebrated his 100th birthday in August 2018. Cross was a noted author, editor and publisher during his long career before retiring to Hilton Head, SC. the late 1980’s.  He also served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II.

Wilbur Cross was born in Scranton, PA in 1918, to Wilbur Cross Jr and Alice Sanderson Cross.  He grew up in Hamden Connecticut, where his grandfather served as the 71st Governor of Connecticut for four terms (1931 to 1939).  He spent a lot of boyhood time around the governor’s mansion as well as summers in Sunapee, NH where the Cross family vacationed for several generations. Cross graduated from Kent School in 1937, and Yale University in 1941 and then volunteered with the Army for two tours in World War II.  Cross participated in two major campaigns at isolated bases in the Pacific over 38 continuous months and was awarded two battle stars for action in enemy held territory.  He completed his service as Captain in the 581st Signal Aircraft Warning Battalion in 1946.  

Cross worked in advertising at Benton and Bowles in New York City and then as an Editor at Life Magazine.  He has published over 50 books and hundreds of articles for major magazines. His last book, “Gullah Culture in America”, was published when he was age 89. At that time, he also co-wrote “Penn Center: A History Preserved” about the first school for liberated slaves after the Civil War. Some of Cross’ other noted books include: “Ghost Ship of the Pole”, re-released as “Disaster At the Pole”, the story of the Italian airship Italia, which crashed at north pole in 1928, resulting in an international rescue effort.

Cross is a member of the Authors Guild and Time/Life Alumni Society. His other books include: “Zeppelins of World War I”, “The Encyclopedia of American Submarines”, “Naval Battles and Heroes”, “Choices with Clout”, “Presidential Courage”, “A Guide to Unusual Vacations”, “Andrew Jackson and the Young in Heart” and “The Henry Holt Retirement Sourcebook”.

Cross was a member of the First Presbyterian Church and served as a Stephen Minister during his retirement years in Hilton Head, SC and relocated to Dogwood Forest in Acworth, GA in April 2016.

Cross survived his wife of 58 years, Esther (Sunny) Wilkinson Cross, whom he married in 1953 in Bronxville NY.  He is survived by four daughters, Candance Crawford Smith of Mt. Dora, FL, Melissa Cross of Nashville, TN, Jennifer Cross of Atlanta, GA, Alison Cross Blatz of Wellesley, MA. and grandchildren Corey Smith of Mt. Dora, FL, Heather Smith of Boston, MA, Haley Blatz of Wellesley, MA, and Rachel Blatz of Wellesley, MA.


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