Nelly Grosswasser PhD

20 enero , 192516 diciembre , 2020

Dr. Nelly Grosswasser, a true force of nature, passed away of COVID-19 on December 16, 2020 in St. Louis. Like the Russian literature she taught, her life story involved romance, war, and spanned continents. Born in Kharkov, Ukraine, USSR Jan 20, 1925, Nelly met her husband Sol in Shymkent (when he sold her a pair of shoes) after he was released from a Siberian Labor Camp. They escaped the USSR post World War II and after a few years in Germany, came to the United States with their son Jack in 1949. Nelly already had her BA in Engineering, and after a brief stint at the Washington University School of Medicine as a researcher on Oranace, an oral insulin medication, she earned an MA and PhD in Education at Washington University. Nelly found her true calling in education, and in 1957 was hired by St. Louis University (SLU) as the first Russian language teacher. She remained at SLU for 47 years, continually expanding the curriculum of Russian language, literature and Eastern European Studies courses offered. When she retired, the department she started had grown to 4 professors. She was dedicated to her students, creating the very popular Russian Club, Scientific Russian certificate, promoting Russian language in area high schools, but most of all mentoring and advising her students. Over the course of her career, she impacted thousands of students’ lives. Her students loved her and she was nominated for and won the most popular faculty member award at SLU several times.

As an immigrant herself, Nelly tried to ease the way for others. She prepared a booklet for Russian immigrants that explained how to shop, bank, get gas, etc. She helped them with job placement and translated documents for them.

She also was a founding member (for over 50 years) of the “Culture Vultures”, a book group of working women whose motto was “No talking about diapers, children or husbands, just literature”.

Her husband Sol passed in 1998. She is survived by her two children Jack and Leonora (Lenny) Schloss, her four grandchildren Rebecca, Abraham, Nathan and Barbara, her great-grandson Jacob (the light of her life) and her brother Villen Shabelsky, who will all miss her feisty outlook on life.

A private family service will be held on Friday, December 18th, at 1:00 PM. The service will be available via Livestream-please visit for live stream details. There will be monument unveiling post pandemic.

In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to the Dr. Nelly Grosswasser Scholarship Fund at



Nelly Grosswasser PhD


Brian Smith

12 marzo , 2021

Dear Lenny;

My condolences on the passing of your mother. I only learned of it today when SLU sent me a thank you letter for my contribution and the letter said "in memory of". An awesome and inspiring woman is an understatement when it comes to the impact your mother had on my life. Currently I reside in Portland, where there is a large population of people from Russia and Ukraine. The organizations I work for use me in a number of interactions with this community. Many of the tips and techniques your mother taught me, when you and I attended together, have proven invaluable. Your mother, in my opinion, was a positive instrument of change, and in her own way, lead the way for what many are today privately and publicly. Her presence will be missed. The legacy she has left you and your brother is a very powerful one. You are blessed - Shalom (Numbers 6:22-27)

Professor Brian Smith - SLU Class of 1984.

Michael Ward

19 enero , 2021

Dear Lenny:

I recently learned of your mother's passing. I hope you and your family are doing well. My thoughts are with you. Your mother was a truly remarkable woman, whom I always held in the highest regard. Her dedication to her students was unsurpassed. It was a great privilege to have been one of her students. I will always remember the summer at your home during which your mother taught Russian Literature in Translation, the Russian Club's Easter Dinner, and our scientific translation classes. I regret that after graduation I lost contact with your mother and never appropriately and timely expressed my great appreciation for all that she did. Please accept my deepest condolences on your mother's passing. Sincerely, Mike Ward

Wayne Rosenthal

28 diciembre , 2020

My condolences to Dr. Nelly's Family. It has been many years since I last saw her. However, she had been a good friend of my grandparents, Bill and Bettye Rosenthal. They often talked about what a fine and educated person she was.

Wayne Rosenthal (Saint Louis, Mo)

Shirley Wolverson

27 diciembre , 2020

I used to drive my mother, Sue, to Culture Vultures meetings during the 2000’s. I was welcomed to stay and even made a couple of presentations over the years. Such a strong, intelligent and inspiring group of women. I remember Nelly well. May her memory be a blessing.

Nancee Manula

21 diciembre , 2020

Jack, Sally, Rebecca, Abe and Family,
My heart goes out to you all. I know Bubba will be missed. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Nancee Manula


18 diciembre , 2020

I always remember going to Jack and Sally's house,,holidays,,birthdays,,barbeques,,,etc.. and Nelly was
always so stylish,,always so coordinated and put together..
She was so smart and always had the best stories about
her youth and her children and students....
Will miss you,Nelly!

Alan Ludmer

17 diciembre , 2020

Dear Jack,
Our condolences to you and your family on the loss of your mother. I remember how you use to speak of her amazing accomplishments. She was a truly outstanding person.

Best regards,
Alan and Alice Ludmer