Gertrude M. Black Gross, 85, died following a brief period of declining health April 1, 2010, at Port Charlotte Hospice House in Port Charlotte, Fla.

Born Nov. 11, 1924, in Thomaston, she was the daughter of Juho and Hilda Hill Suomela. She attended Thomaston High School, graduating in 1942.

Following high school, Gertrude traveled to Texas with her sister-in-law, where they worked together as civil clerks for the army base where her brother Toivo was in training.

In 1946, Gertrude married Lewis Black in Rockland. The couple made their home there until Mr. Black’s death in 1976.

For more than 20 years she was employed as a legal secretary for attorneys Knight, Chalmers and Brannan in Rockland.

Gertrude was a member and past noble grand of the Miriam Rebekah Lodge No. 33 in Rockland, and past member and president of the Beaverettes, the women’s auxiliary of the Knox County Fish and Game Association.

As a 25-year volunteer for the March of Dimes, Gertrude was instrumental in establishing the Finnish American Dance, which was not only a major fundraiser for the March of Dimes but also provided the community an opportunity to enjoy Finnish traditions of dress and food. Due to her efforts, Knox County was recognized as having the largest per capita giving in the U.S. Gertrude was also a member of the Knox County Republican Women’s Club.

On July 18, 1992, Gertrude married Raymond E. Gross in St. George.

Together they made their home in South Thomaston, while wintering in Port Charlotte, Fla.

She was predeceased by her first husband.

Gertrude is survived by her husband, Raymond, of South Thomaston; her brothers, Toivo A. Suomela of Port Charlotte, Fla., Raymond Athearn of Rockland and Robert G. Athearn of Cheyenne, Wyo.; a sister, Daurice Grant and her husband, Willis, of Macon, Ga.; and many nieces and nephews.

Family and friends are invited to visit Sunday, April 18 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Burpee, Carpenter & Hutchins Funeral Home, 110 Limerock St. in Rockland, where a celebration of Gertrude’s life will be held Monday, April 19 at 11 a.m. The Rev. Terrance Willis will officiate. A reception will be held immediately following at the funeral home’s 104 Limerock facility. Burial will be in the Village Cemetery in Thomaston.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made, In Memory of Gertrude Black Gross, to the Finnish Heritage House, P.O. Box 293, South Thomaston, ME 04858.

To sign Gertrude’s online guest book, visit