Robert James Ross was born in Long Beach, California to James Simington Ross and Pearl Lewis Ross.
He attended Huntington Beach High School where he excelled in water polo and swimming. He was a lifeguard at City Beach, supporting his mother and younger brother and sister throughout his high school years. He loved the ocean and any spare time he had would be spent skin diving for abalone at Little Corona.
Bob met his future bride, Jackie, in 1938 when she was 13 years old. He proposed to her in 1942 on the Huntington Beach Pier. He graduated from High School after the war broke out and joined the Merchant Marine Academy in Long Island, New York. Following his graduation as an Ensign in December, 1944 they were married and he was on active duty in the Pacific until the end of the war.
He would have loved a career at sea but a growing family at home changed the course of his life. He went to work for the City of Huntington Beach and became a draftsman, using that skill for the rest of his life. He was still drawing plans at 80 years old, working alongside his son, Bobby, who called him his "right hand man."
His career included starting his own construction company in the 1950s and supervising crews that laid the groundwork for Disneyland in Anaheim, CA and the McDonnell Douglas facility in H.B. He operated a home service in Mammoth Lakes, was manager of June Mountain Resort and also managed a private water company in Phelan, CA.
In the late 60s he chose to leave the city behind and moved to Mammoth Lakes, CA. to pursue his love of fishing, hunting, and the freedom of being his own boss. These were life passions that he passed on to his sons and grandsons, teaching each and every one of his grandchildren to fish. He was always proud of their skill and ability, not just in fishing but in every area of their lives.
The early 70s brought heartache and loss from the death of a grandchild and nephew. A spiritual awakening of faith in Jesus Christ brought hope and strength. Along with his newly found faith came the desire to live a life of self-sufficiency in a place where grandchildren could experience farming and living off the land. In 1975, Bob and Jackie bought a small ranch in Phelan, CA with daughter Kim and her husband Val. They spent the next 12 years coaxing the land into production, three generations working side by side.
The next adventure was Bible College in Anchorage, Alaska, which he attended with his two sons, Dana and Bobby and where he and Jackie were trained and served as marriage and family counselors for the next 4 years. They returned to the high desert in CA for a few years where they helped start a new church fellowship.
In 1990 they decided it was time to retire to Friday Harbor, moving at the same time as grandchildren Kori and Scott Mapstead. They built a retirement home for daughter, Marni and her husband Bill Gendron and became actively involved in church life on the island. The rest of the family followed in short order.
They lived in many places over the years but it was in the wide-open spaces that he was happiest—the beach, the High Sierras, Alaska and finally Friday Harbor, the most beautiful place on earth. As long as he could fish and have family around him as he served the Lord, he was a contented man. He was a man of integrity and honor who loved his family unconditionally and he will be greatly missed by all of us.
Bob is survived by his wife, Jackie; his brother, Lewis Ross (Betty), sister, Janice Jones; his children, Marni Gendron (Bill), Kim Levasheff (Val), Bobby Ross (Julie), Dana Ross (Pat) and his grandchildren, Kori Mapstead (Scott), Kirk Gendron (Carrie), Tina Smith (Jeff), Justin Ross (Tisha), Jeremy Ross (Darla), Josh Levasheff (Stephanie), Jeff Ross (Abi), Rob Ross (Sommer), Shanna Ross, Jordan Ross, Jacob Ross and 21 great-grandchildren.
Join us at the Presbyterian Church on Saturday, Feb.11, 2012, at 1:00 pm to share stories about Bob's life.