Dr. Art Grossman, a longtime Everett family practice physician, soccer coach and YMCA fitness instructor, died Dec. 21 of ALS. Grossman is seen here in 2013, stopped along Marine View Drive in Everett with his bike. (Dan Bates / Herald file)

Dr. Art Grossman, a longtime Everett family practice physician, soccer coach and YMCA fitness instructor, died Dec. 21 of ALS. Grossman is seen here in 2013, stopped along Marine View Drive in Everett with his bike. (Dan Bates / Herald file)

Everett doctor diagnosed with ALS didn’t need a bucket list

Virginia Grossman said her husband, Art, who died Dec. 21, planned to keep doing what he loved.

When Everett’s Dr. Art Grossman was diagnosed with ALS, the debilitating neurological condition known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, he told his wife he wouldn’t be making a bucket list. He liked his life just as it was.

Virginia Grossman said her indomitable and incredibly fit husband planned to keep doing what he loved — bicycling and teaching exercise classes — for as long as he could. “And that’s exactly what he did,” she said.

A family practice doctor and obstetrician who had delivered the babies of children he brought into the world a generation ago, Arthur Saul Grossman died Dec. 21, just eight days after turning 71. He was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis about 18 months ago.

“We’re rewriting the book on how you’re supposed to act when you get old,” Grossman told The Herald in 2010 after completing a 154-mile bike ride called RAMROD (Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day). At the time, he was 63 and still busy in his practice with Western Washington Medical Group in Everett.

Dr. Arthur Saul Grossman died just eight days after turning 71. (Dan Bates / Herald file)

Dr. Arthur Saul Grossman died just eight days after turning 71. (Dan Bates / Herald file)

“Arthur was truly a unique person,” said Dr. Randall Gould, a former colleague of Grossman’s. Both doctors joined the Everett Family Practice Center in 1977. “I have never known another physician with more compassion and more talent. It was an honor to work side by side with him for 20 years,” said Gould, who now lives in Kona, Hawaii.

“He was always positive, decent, careful, prepared and humorous,” said Gould, adding that his colleague had “a highly developed sense of social responsibility.”

Grossman retired from Western Washington Medical Group in 2013, at 66, but until three months before his death he volunteered at Providence Everett Healthcare Clinic, now Community Health Center of Snohomish County. Retirement simply meant more time to help. “He started using his many gifts to try to improve the lives of many others in our community,” Gould said.

For years a referee and coach with Washington Youth Soccer, Grossman stepped up his schedule by teaching fitness classes at the Everett Family YMCA and at LA Fitness.

“It’s a huge loss,” said Ted Wenta, the YMCA of Snohomish County’s senior vice president of operations. “For many of us, Art was the YMCA,” Wenta said in the online guest book accompanying Grossman’s obituary in The Herald.

Grossman taught cycling and other classes at the Y for at least a decade. Even as his disease progressed, “that was not who Art was,” Wenta said Friday. “He enjoyed being out on the bike instructing people, coaching them up.”

Dr. Art Grossman rides south, past the bluff at Legion Park in Everett. on a sunny winter day in early February 2013. The Everett family practice physician, soccer coach and YMCA fitness instructor died Dec. 21 of ALS. (Dan Bates / Herald file)

Dr. Art Grossman rides south, past the bluff at Legion Park in Everett. on a sunny winter day in early February 2013. The Everett family practice physician, soccer coach and YMCA fitness instructor died Dec. 21 of ALS. (Dan Bates / Herald file)

On Thanksgiving morning, Grossman was a surprise honoree before the start of a “Burn the Bird” fitness class at the Everett Y. The class was supposed to start at 8 a.m. But Gael Gebow, senior program director at the Everett Y, asked Grossman to be there a half-hour early.

“I made a secret-event invitation, with everyone pretending to come to cycle class,” said Gebow, Grossman’s longtime friend and his YMCA supervisor. She worried because Grossman was having trouble getting up the stairs of the multi-story building, but he made it to class. About 50 people showed up as a tribute to Grossman’s decade of service.

“There were a lot of tears in the room,” Gebow said. “He’s been the biggest inspiration. He became a certified personal trainer and was also a wellness coach. He met one-on-one with people to talk about wellness goals.” Along with cycling, Grossman taught a “Silver Sneakers” senior fitness class and water exercise for people with arthritis.

Gebow’s friendship with Grossman began long before she was his supervisor at the Y. “He was my kid’s soccer coach — and the most driven, determined human I’ve ever known,” she said.

Born Dec. 14, 1946, in Philadelphia, Grossman attended Brown University in Rhode Island, where he met his future wife. They settled in Everett after he completed his medical training.

“We wanted to be in a small city close to a big city,” said Virginia Grossman, who grew up in Iowa. She remembers their house across from what’s now Providence Regional Medical Center Everett on Colby Avenue. “He could walk across the street when it was time to deliver a baby,” she said.

Along with his wife, Grossman is survived by his three children and their spouses. Daughter Emily Grossman is a veterinarian in Seattle. Andrew Grossman is a nurse practitioner, also in Seattle, and Gretchen Grossman Webber lives in California’s San Diego area. He is also survived by five grandchildren — Cassie, Meadow, Gloria, Amelia and Milo — and by his brother and sister-in-law, Sam and Jean Grossman.

Medicine, fitness instruction and racking up miles on his bicycle — his goal was 14,000 miles in a year — weren’t Grossman’s only interests.

He had served on Everett’s Board of Park Commissioners and had coached a math Olympics team at Hawthorne Elementary School. Those two causes, parks and kids, were so close to his heart that in 2000 he wrote a letter to the editor published in The Herald. In it, he noted an “unbalanced concern for animals versus children.”

Grossman said in his letter that just 12 months after initiating the idea of an off-leash dog area, Everett had one. “However, it has been almost 12 years since the parks department identified a desperate shortage of play fields for the children of Everett to use for soccer, baseball and just running free and having fun,” he wrote.

When he wasn’t cycling or running marathons, he enjoyed opera and playing bridge.

“He had no ego,” Gould said. “Usually I would hear about one of his new endeavors from someone other than him. And there never seemed to be any limit to his time or energy.”

Virginia Grossman agrees. There was no sitting around, no hanging out.

“He was not a hang-out person. He was a bumblebee, always busy. He just stopped by to say hi occasionally,” she joked.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Local News

The Safeway store at 4128 Rucker Ave., on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Mike Henneke / The Herald)
Police: Everett Safeway ex-worker accused of trying to ram customers

The man, 40, was showing symptoms of psychosis, police wrote. Officers found him circling another parking lot off Mukilteo Boulevard.

Lynnwood Mayor Christine Frizzell speaks during a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of the 196th ST SW Improvement Project near the 196th and 44th Ave West intersection in Lynnwood, Washington on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Jarred by anti-Semitic rants, Lynnwood council approves tax increase

Three people spewed hate speech via Zoom at a council meeting this week. Then, the council moved on to regular business.

The county canvassing board certifies election results at the Snohomish County Auditor’s Office in Everett, Washington on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023.  (Annie Barker / The Herald)
General election results stamped official by canvassing board

In Snohomish County, one hand recount will take place. Officials said ballot challenges were down this year.

The Days Inn on Everett Mall Way, which Snohomish County is set to purchase and convert into emergency housing, is seen Monday, Aug. 8, 2022, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Over $130M for affordable housing set to be approved by County Council

The five-year investment plan of the 0.1% sales tax aims to construct 550 new affordable units.

Two snowboarders head up the mountain in a lift chair on the opening day of ski season at Stevens Pass Ski Area on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022, near Skykomish, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Ski season delayed at Stevens Pass due to minimal snow

Resort originally planned to open Dec. 1. But staff are hopeful this week’s snow will allow guests to hit the slopes soon.

Siblings Qingyun, left, and Ruoyun Li, 12 and 13, respectively, are together on campus at Everett Community College on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023, in Everett, Washington. The two are taking a full course load at the community college this semester. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Siblings, age 12 and 13, are youngest students at EvCC campus

Qingyun Li was 11 when he scored a perfect 36 on the ACT test. His sister, Ruoyun, was one point away.

Edmond’s newly elected mayor Mike Rosen on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Mayor-elect Rosen wants to ‘make Edmonds politics boring again’

Mike Rosen handily defeated incumbent Mayor Mike Nelson. He talked with The Herald about how he wants to gather the “full input” of residents.

Outside of Angel of the Winds Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Police arrest Angel of the Winds arena worker accused of stabbing boss

The man allegedly walked up to his employer and demanded a raise, before stabbing him in the stomach, witnesses said.

Providence Hospital in Everett at sunset on December 11, 2017. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)
After strike, Everett nurses, Providence agree on tentative contract

Following a five-day strike, union nurses and the hospital met to negotiate for the first time in late November.

The terminal and air traffic control tower at Paine Field are seen on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022, in unincorporated Snohomish County, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Everett’s second-largest aerospace employer, ATS, names new CEO

New CEO Robert Cords will lead Paine Field-based Aviation Technical Services, which employs 800 people in Everett.

A sign showing the river levels of previous floods is visible along the Snohomish River on Monday, Dec. 4, 2023 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Forecast holds: Flooding to hit Tuesday in Gold Bar, Monroe, Snohomish

The Snohomish River was expected to crest “just below” major flood stage late Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.

Chestnut mushrooms grow in a fruiting tent on Friday, Dec. 1, 2023, at Black Forest Mushrooms in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Fungi town: Downtown Everett home to new indoor gourmet mushroom farm

Black Forest Mushrooms will grow up to 20,000 pounds of tasty mushrooms each month. Its storefront opens Saturday at 2110 Hewitt Ave.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.