Gerald C. Gross, of the United States, was associated with ITU for most of his career. He participated, as a delegate or an official, in all major ITU conferences from 1929 until his retirement in 1965. Given his expertise, Gross was chosen as Deputy Director of ITU’s Radiocommunication Division in 1945. In 1948, when the post was renamed and reorganized, he became one of two Assistant Secretary-Generals. He had particular responsibility for ITU’s radio division, while Leon Mulatier oversaw the telegraph and telephone division.
Gross filled this post until taking over as interim ITU Secretary-General after the sudden death of Marco Aurelio Andrada in 1958. He was formally appointed by the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference held in Geneva in 1959, and continued as Secretary-General until his retirement in 1965.
Born in New York in 1903, Gross studied electrical engineering at Haverford College in Pennsylvania. While there he helped design and build one of the first college broadcasting stations in the United States. During summer vacations he worked as a radio operator on freight and passenger ships.
After graduating in 1926, Gross joined the US National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology) and developed binaural aviation radio beacons, as well as working on standard frequency transmissions. Two years later, he moved to the engineering section of the Federal Radio Commission (now the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC). Gross was Chief of the Engineering Department in the International Division, then Chief of the Common Carrier Division, followed by Chief of the Broadcasting Division.
This solid background in telecommunications was augmented by the hobby of amateur radio, which Gross continued to pursue through the amateur station at ITU headquarters. In 1962 he received a DeForest Audion Gold Medal Award from the Veteran Wireless Operators Association in the United States.
Gross also took a keen interest in new – and future -- technologies. He belonged to the American Rocket Society, which was founded in the 1930s to promote the wonders of space travel, and which later began serious experiments in building and testing small rockets. Satellites and their use for communications was another topic that Gross recognized in the early 1960s would be of great significance to ITU.
Gross also recognized that assisting developing countries was of growing importance. His legacy at ITU includes the establishment in 1960 of the Department of Technical Assistance to foster the expansion of networks everywhere.