One time when John “Jack” Cross and his wife, Sally, were riding on one of those moving walkways in an airport, they looked up to see his larger-than-life face. “Here’s this huge, big poster,” recalled Mrs. Cross. “It’s Jack as a doctor.”
Mr. Cross wasn’t a doctor. He just played one in various commercials and other acting parts, according to his wife. Apparently he looked like a professional, she said, because he was regularly cast in those kinds of parts.
Mr. Cross, an 86-year-old resident of Moon who died in hospice care Monday just weeks after being diagnosed with cancer, was actually employed in the insurance business for 40 years, with his last position before retirement as a resident vice president and director of marketing for Interstate Insurance Management. His family said he never worked as an insurance agent, instead holding positions in which he represented insurance companies in their dealings with agents.
The native of New York City attended Brooklyn College and the Insurance College of New York.
During World War II, he served in the Navy Armed Guard, which helped defend merchant ships. Mr. Cross served in the Pacific between July 1944 and June 1946. Later, marine insurance would become his specialty.
He was working in Richmond, Va., in the early 1960s when he was transferred to the Pittsburgh area and settled in Moon, where he lived the rest of his life.
In addition to his insurance jobs, Mr. Cross was involved in many other things. His acting work included appearances in shows put on at the Robert Morris Colonial Theatre, where a 1978 article in The Pittsburgh Press listed him as being in the cast of “The Odd Couple.” His wife said he was an extra in a number of movies.
He was active for years with the Republican Committee in Moon, doing everything from helping with efforts to get out the vote, to driving around a carload of media types covering presidential candidate George W. Bush’s campaign when Mr. Bush came to Pittsburgh.
In addition, he coached youth basketball for years, and Mrs. Cross said young men would regularly come up to say hello to their former coach.
Mr. Cross was a past president of the Insurance Club of Pittsburgh, a past president of the Insurance Managers Association, a founding member of the Insurance Marketing Association of Pittsburgh and former “skipper” of the Mariners of Pittsburgh, a group involved in marine insurance.
He was also a member and past president of the Sewickley Senior Men’s Club, the Western Pennsylvania Civil War Roundtable, VFW Post 8805 and American Legion Post 4.
In addition to his wife of 48 years, Mr. Cross is survived by three daughters, Courtney Burgos of Deland, Fla., Stephanie Erskine of Hopewell and Leslie Paige of Jacksonville, Fla.; two sons, Kenneth Cross of Marina Del Ray, Calif., and Christopher Cross of Denver; and seven grandchildren. He was predeceased by two children, Karen Hodzic and Drake Cross.
The funeral will be private with private burial in the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies. The family suggests donations to the Brother’s Brother Foundation, 1200 Galveston Ave., Pittsburgh 15233 or another charity.