Wilbur Lucius Cross III Passes Away March 4, 2019, at 100 years old Print


By the Family

Mar. 20, 2019:  Wilbur Lucius Cross passed away peacefully in his sleep on March 4, 2019, having celebrated his 100th birthday in August of 2018. Cross was a noted author, editor, and publisher during his long career. He and his wife were Bronxville residents from 1953 to 1980, where they raised four daughters. They retired to Hilton Head, SC, in the late 1980s and relocated to Dogwood of Acworth in Acworth, GA, in 2016.

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 U.S. 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 a 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 Time/Life Publishing. He was a member of the Authors Guild and the Time/Life Alumni Society. He published over 50 books and hundreds of articles for major magazines. His last book, Gullah Culture in America, was published when he was 89 years old. At that time, he also co-wrote Penn Center: A History Preserved, which is about the first school for liberated slaves after the Civil War. Cross’s other noted books include Zeppelins of World War 1, Naval Battles and Heroes, Presidential Courage, and Ghost Ship of the Pole, re-released as Disaster at the Pole, the story of the Italian airship Italia, which crashed at the North Pole in 1928 resulting in an international rescue effort.

Cross was an active member of The Reformed Church of Bronxville, serving as a deacon and a participant in various ministries. Upon his retirement to Hilton Head, he was an active member of First Presbyterian Church and served as a Stephen Minister for many years. Upon his relocation to Dogwood Forest in Acworth, GA, in April of 2016, he enjoyed church services at the local Episcopalian church.

Cross survived his wife of 58 years, Esther (Sunny) Wilkinson Cross, whom he married in 1953 in Bronxville. He is survived by four daughters, Candance Crawford Smith of Mt. Dora, FL, Melissa Cross of Nashville, TN, Jennifer Cross of Atlanta, GA, and 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.

In lieu of flowers, the family is suggesting donations in his name to the Lake Sunapee Protective Association (http://www.lakesunapee.org/donation) or the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animas) (https://www.aspca.org).