I have known Professor Gross for many years. The first time I met him was in a Phoniatric meeting in Salamanca, Spain, in 1984. Back then he was working in Mainz under the leadership of Professor Biesalski. He was planning to move to Berlin. I knew then that I shall know him better, since I was almost a “Berliner” because of certain family ties, and I was in Berlin a couple of times every year.
Professor Gross rejuvenated the Phoniatric Department in the Freie Universitӓt Berlin, Benjamin Franklin University Hospital. I have witnessed the growth of the facility and the high quality of work in Phoniatrics and Audiology, clinically and scientifically, that was being developed there. Many Phoniatricians, who became the stars of the profession, started training in this facility.
Professor Gross worked hard in the plan to unify the universities in Berlin following the “fall of the wall”, and the rationalization of the educational and clinical services in the unified city. He was then in the position of the Vice Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, the Charité. A great and devoted work, indeed.
Professor Gross shared in the efforts to develop the German Society of Phoniatrics and Pedaudiology. The efforts of all the colleagues in the society resulted in the fact that it became the largest Phoniatric gathering in Europe, and even in the world.
All these responsibilities did not stop my dear friend Professor Manfred Gross from being indulged in European Phoniatrics. This was in a critical time of the history of the European Union of Phoniatricians (UEP), when that union was about to disappear. The present high level of the status of the UEP is a result of the continued and devoted efforts of him and the colleagues who followed.
Professor Gross took important roles in the International Federation of Oto-Rhino-Laryngological Societies (IFOS), being the Chair of the Scientific Committee of Phoniatrics and Audiology for 8 years.
He was also involved in the activities of the World Voice Consortium, trying to reform it to meet even higher standards.
Professor Gross was also active in many other international scientific societies and groups in the fields of Audiology and Phoniatrics.
Apart from this narration of the professional career of Professor Manfred Gross, one must highlight the refined aspects of his character and person. We became close friends. He visited our academic facility in Ain Shams University and I did the same to the academic facility in Berlin, Benjamin Franklin, and later in Charité Mitte and Charité Virchow.
Through these mutual visits, and my many private and family linked visits to Berlin, a strong friendship grew between us. He became introduced to my Ante who lived in Kladua, Berlin. He helped me to take care of this aging fine lady while I was away. He did that in the most gracious manner. Manfred, simply, became my younger brother. When my Ante died, my stay in Berlin was frequently with my brother Manfred in his home.
Manfred was a highly valued and cherished member of our international group of friends in the profession. We all appreciated his refined and friendly character as well as the rare gentlemanly attitudes. We all loved him and respected his professional achievements, as well as his gentle personal traits.
During the last few years I learnt of the health problems of my dear brother Manfred. He was so kind to save me the trouble of knowing any details about it. But it seemed to be a progressive ailment. He fought the disease in a courageous and valiant manner. He kept his duties to the very end. I appreciated his care, during the months of April and May this year, to help me find a good place in Germany to treat my latest serious ailment. We were in email and SMS contact. Manfred was getting very weak. He found it difficult to communicate verbally because of failing voice energy. The last question I raised with him was asking if we can use robotics to open new fields in phonosurgery. There was still time to read his very short response accepting the idea! This was sadly few days before he was moved to hospital, in a frail condition, where he quickly succumbed to the harshness of his illness.
Manfred, we all pray that you shall be in peace and in eternal rest and light. We shall miss you deeply and shall remember you for many years to come.
M. Nasser Kotby