Remembering Art Grosse |

Remembering Art Grosse

Victoria Penate
Special to The Union
Art Grosse


Ann Grosse expressed her gratitude to, and admiration for, the Rough and Ready Volunteer Fire Department. She asked that any support for her family at this time be made in the form of donations to the department, which can be done here:

Sheridan Loungway’s first experience with Art Grosse was through the Rough and Ready Volunteer Fire Department, where they served on its board of directors. Grosse had served for over 20 years.

“I loved to hear him talk, because he knew everybody and everybody knew and liked him,” said Loungway, remembering his longtime friend.

Grosse died June 17. He was 89.

“Art was very service-oriented and volunteer-oriented,” said Loungway. “He loved people, and he always was smiling. I never really heard him talk badly about anybody, always looking on the bright side.”

Grosse had also served on the Rough and Ready Chamber of Commerce as a director, alongside Loungway, who is the current president. Grosse’s most recent term ended last year.

“He was just an all-around good guy — anything that ever needed to be done in our chamber, he was always the person to raise his hand and volunteer, no matter what it was,” said Loungway.

“He was well-loved and well-respected by his peers, people of all walks of life,” Loungway added, sharing that Grosse had a unifying effect on those he worked with.

Craig Ashcraft, one of Grosse’s fellow directors in the chamber, echoed this sentiment.

“Art was everybody’s friend on the board, and he just had a way about him of bringing people together even if everybody disagreed,” said Ashcraft. “I would say he had a great impact on the board, and he will certainly be missed.”


Ashcraft recalled that Grosse was responsible for bringing the annual Rough and Ready Chili Cook Off — an event formerly sanctioned by the International Chili Society, though now “seceded” and held independently since 2004 — to the town. The event has since become a mainstay of Rough and Ready’s annual Secession Days celebrations.

“He ran it for years, organizing all the cooks, vendors, and judges,” said Ashcraft. “It was an incredible impact.”

“I always said that Art worked in foods like Picasso worked in oils — that was his medium,” said Loungway. “He loved to cook, and he loved to eat.”

Grosse was also one of four founders of the Fruit Jar Pickers, a local bluegrass musical group that regularly played sing-a-long style shows from 2000 to 2017. “He’d come in there and keep everybody in tune,” said Loungway, in reference to Grosse’s contribution on the stand-up bass.

Loungway remembers Grosse as a man who was, above all, family-oriented.

In 2012, after 26 years of playing Mr. and Mrs. Claus at the Nevada County Fairgrounds’ annual Country Christmas Faire, Art and Ann Grosse were named to the Nevada County Fair’s Hall of Fame.

“For years, he did that, and that’s what stands out in my mind — kids loved him,” said Ed Scofield, former CEO of the Nevada County Fairgrounds and a current member of the Nevada County Board of Supervisors. “I’m sure generations of kids went and sat on his lap to tell their wishes to Santa.”

Scofield remembers Grosse for his kind demeanor and dedication to helping others.

“He did an incredible job out there,” said Scofield. “Sometimes the line was so long he couldn’t take breaks, and he was just dedicated to it. If there was ever an issue, I knew I could go out and talk to him.

“Art was just that kind of a man,” he added.

Victoria Penate is a freelance writer for The Union.

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