Mary and Jerry Cross were both born in 1945. They were raised in Roseville, Michigan, meeting in the 7th grade at Burton Junior High School, dating as seniors in high school, then getting married within a year after graduation...at the tender age of 18. Mary worked as a telephone operator while Jerry attended Michigan State University. In late 1967 they adopted their first daughter, Carla. Shortly thereafter, Jerry graduated from MSU with a bachelors degree in accounting and financial administration and went on to work for a major CPA firm and later for a major supplier to the auto industry where he held a number of executive positions. Meanwhile, Kelly was born in 1969 and Kevin (KC) came along in 1976. As KC entered pre-school age, Mary began work on her nursing degree. She became a Licensed Practical Nurse in 1980 and a Registered Nurse in 1982. She worked in various capacities in several hospitals, including Children's Hospital of Michigan where she was a member of the I.V. Team. Later, she administered I.V. therapy in the homes of children and adult patients.
Used to doing things at "a tender age", they decided to retire from their jobs at the age of 53. The plan was to enjoy retirement for a couple of years, then give something back to society by performing some voluntary service to humanity. They had the idea they could follow in their daughter Kelly's footsteps and volunteer for a two-year assignment in the United States Peace Corps. After a rather lengthy application process, they left for the Republic of South Africa on July 5, 2001 to join the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Mary and Jerry are dedicating their efforts in South Africa to Carla, Ray, Katie and Jacob; Kelly and Anibal; KC and Sasha; and Mom and Dad. They recognize they will play a very minor role in the battle against this acutely serious problem; but they are proud to do what they can and they hope to inspire others to consider the entire earth as one community and to work for the benefit of those neighbors most in need.