She wore a different Christmas hat every day in December and often made gift bags for the students on her bus, said her 29-year-old son, Jevon Gross, and his wife, Amber.
“She didn’t have a lot, but she just gave so much to so many people,” Jevon Gross said.
She became sick over Labor Day weekend after driving for the first month of the school year, her family said. During that time, some students whose siblings were home with COVID-19 rode Gross’ bus to school, her family said.
Jevon Gross believes his mother, who was vaccinated, likely caught the virus from her job. “She didn’t really have a social life outside of work,” he said.
She was hospitalized Sept. 11 and died at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta.
“We were extremely saddened to learn of the passing of one of our dedicated team members,” a Cobb school district spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “Ms. Gross was a beloved bus driver who served Cobb students for two decades. Our deepest sympathies go out to her family and friends.”
She is survived by her companion of 28 years, Jerry Guy, and two other children, 26-year-old Joshua Guy and 21-year-old Jelissia Guy; in addition to five grandchildren, including an 8-year-old grandson whom she was raising. She also is survived by a sister, Carol Bonner, and a niece and nephew.
Gross was born and raised in Winona, Mississippi, and came to Marietta after graduating from high school. When her oldest son was little, she drove the van for his day care and later became a school bus driver, he said.
“She loved being around kids,” Jevon Gross said. “That kind of kept her in the loop of what music was new and what clothes not to wear.”
She asked the students on her bus where they got their shoes and shopped online for the sneakers she liked, her son said. She was also known to buy any sandals with glitter and rhinestones on them, he said.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, Jevon Gross said, his mother planned to spend retirement volunteering at a children’s hospital.
Over the decades, Lisa Gross moved to seemingly every part of Marietta and didn’t live in any other city, said her son, who still lives there. Although Gross was a private person, many people came to know her as a neighbor and a bus driver.
One of the doctors who treated her has two children who rode her bus, Gross’ family said. The children had been asking about their bus driver and the doctor didn’t know the reason for her absence until he saw her in the hospital, Jevon Gross said.
“She was all about Marietta,” Jevon Gross said. “She knew everybody.”
The Cobb school district has recorded more than 5,900 cases of COVID-19 since July 1 among students and staff. The district has about 107,000 students and 18,000 employees.