Cross was born in Missouri in 1925 and raised in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He was a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, serving a three-year tour in the Pacific theater during World War II.
Following his wartime service, Cross attended school at Carroll College (now Carroll University) in Wisconsin. He helped reestablish the SigEp chapter on campus and graduated in 3 1/2 years. Following graduate school at the University of New Mexico, he joined the SigEp Headquarters staff as a field secretary.
Brother Cross worked in higher education for much of his life. He began his career at North Carolina State University and went on to work at the University of Michigan before settling in Gainesville, Florida, where he worked for the University of Florida from 1960 to 1988.
Cross was a dedicated SigEp volunteer wherever he went, serving as district governor in three states. As a longtime Florida Alpha volunteer, he was beloved by brothers and friends.
“I, as most who knew him, loved Bill Cross! He was as approachable and willing to help as any person I have ever known,” reflected Bill Bell, Florida ’77.
Past Grand President Bert Harris, Florida ’74, remembered him fondly, too, saying, “Bill was a great mentor to me and several others. He was always very direct — and did not always tell you what you wanted to hear. That said, he was one to encourage a student’s personal growth and development. He always pushed, supported and encouraged. I would consider him one of the Fraternity’s best and longest serving mentors.”
In addition to his extraordinary service as district governor and Florida Alpha volunteer, Brother Cross served the Fraternity as chairman of the National Leadership Council and frequently led regional leadership academies, today known as the Carlson Leadership Academy.
In 1985, SigEp bestowed on Cross the Order of the Golden Heart. Three years later, he retired from the University of Florida, remaining in Gainesville until his death. A consummate example of the sound body ideal, he was an avid athlete who played tennis year-round into his 80s.
Throughout SigEp history, the Fraternity has called upon heroes to guide and inspire us. For so many, Cross was that hero — and he will be dearly missed.