George Harold Ross slipped away gently in his sleep at Mercy Hospital in the early morning of January 8 after a steady stream of family and friends called upon him during the day and evening. He would have been 96 later this month. While under care for pneumonia, George’s heart just gave up, part of which was broken when his beloved wife of 71 years, Jean, died just over a year ago. Funeral services will be Saturday, January 12, 2019 at 1:30 p.m. at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church Faith Worship Center. After a reception, a private burial will be at Cedar Memorial Park Cemetery.
Born on January 26, 1923 in Chicago, Illinois to Mabel and Harold Ross, George did most of his growing up in Cedar Rapids when his parents moved there for investments in agriculture, livestock, and eventually family-owned restaurants: The Hut, The Waffle Shop and Ross Steak House in downtown Cedar Rapids, which George helped operate while farming outside of Marion, Iowa to supply fresh produce and angus beef for the steak house.
Leaving the family business, George pursued a career in education by enrolling at Coe College for a B.A. in chemistry, followed by teaching at Marion Rural Independent and Franklin Junior High School, the same building where George attended high school, graduating during WWII. He had many fond memories of his high school years, forged life-long friendships, enjoyed competitive swimming, and achieved Eagle Scout rank in the Boy Scouts of America. He was all set for the 1935 Jamboree by selling eggs and delivering papers in his Forest Drive neighborhood only to find out that the Jamboree was cancelled due to the polio epidemic. George did attend the 1937 Jamboree in Washington, D.C.
Directly out of high school, George entered a U.S. Army pre-med program at the University of Iowa. It was there he met Jean Nielsen, the pretty nursing student from Algona, Iowa. George was captivated by Jean’s lively countenance and caring nature. They were married in December 1945. At war’s end, the pre-med program was over, and Jean and George moved to Cedar Rapids and entered the family business.
With Jean’s nursing at St. Lukes, and George’s teaching, they raised four children, each successful in their own endeavors. George went on to earn a master’s degree at the University of Iowa followed by a PhD in research and development. Dr. Ross became the Director of Research at the Cedar Rapids Community School District until his retirement, during which he and Jean enjoyed camping, biking, including tandem and side-by-sides. Many grandchildren have happy memories of camping trips with Jean and George. With Jean’s passing, George took up tricycling on Cedar Rapids’ bike trails and became the subject of a Gazette article. Memberships in Haggis, the Danish Brotherhood, Phi Delta Kappa, and Indian Creek Nature Center made retirement enjoyable along with his many assignments in substitute teaching.
Left to share fond memories of George are his children: Nancy Christensen (Donald), Patti Knutson (Karl), Lachlan Ross (Mary), David Ross (Cheryl); grandchildren Katherine Morgan (Mike), Elizabeth Langston (Rod), Alicia Boettcher (Al), Chad Ross (Meredith), Peter Knutson (Yasmin), Laura Ross, Michael Ross (Megan), Amy Ross; great-grandchildren Connor, Lauren, Ashley, Alex, Noah, Magdalena, Ezekiel, Asher, and Annie; brother Donald Ross, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Preceding George’s death are wife Jean, his parents, brother Duncan Ross, and grandchildren David and Kyle.
The family would like to give a special thanks to Dr. Richard Pope, Krista Woltman of The Caregivers, and many members of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church whose heartfelt time with George was special.
Memorials may be given in George’s memory to the Indian Creek Nature Center or St. Mark’s Lutheran Church.