Robert H. Ross Jr., 100

Robert Ross Jr.

Robert Ross Jr.

SCARBOROUGH — Robert Henry Ross Jr., 100, succumbed to congestive heart failure on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2016, in his apartment at Piper Shores in Scarborough. He died peacefully, his children by his side, having just turned 100.

Bob was born on July 16, 1916, to Marie Deem Ross and Robert Henry Ross, of Germantown, Ohio. He lost his mother in the 1918 flu pandemic, and in 1920, his father was remarried to Helen Bailey of Xenia, Ohio. An only child, he was raised by his father, stepmother, and live-in caretaker, Iola Watkins.

Bob attended the Germantown School through ninth grade, then joined the Class of 1934 at Oakwood High School in Dayton, Ohio. He was an excellent student and a varsity track and field athlete. He spent his childhood summers at Camp Algonquin on Burt Lake, Mich., and at his family's summer home in Bay View, Mich. These were among the happiest days of his life, furthering his interest in nature and the joys of camaraderie.

In 1934, Bob set off by train for Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., where he developed personally, intellectually, and politically. He found lifelong friends among the “Russell Sage Six,” named in honor of their freshman dorm. Under the instruction of inspiring teachers, Bob’s passion for literature grew, as did his anti-isolationist political views. In 1937, Bob met his wife-to-be, Mary Bishop of Brooklyn, N.Y., a sophomore at Smith College. A very different young man from the one who had arrived by train in 1934, Bob graduated from Dartmouth in 1938 with a bachelor’s degree in English.

On Aug. 3, 1940, Bob and Mary were married in the Congregational Church in Waterford, where her family had a summer home. Bob enrolled at Harvard to pursue graduate studies in English, and the couple settled in Cambridge, Mass.

On Dec. 18, 1941, 11 days after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Susan, their first child, was born. Feeling the call to duty, Bob joined the Army in 1942. He served as an Intelligence officer with the Army Air Force, 7th Battalion, in Saipan and Okinawa, achieving the rank of Captain and was awarded three battle stars on his Asiatic-Pacific Theater ribbon. Bob described his four years of service in World War II as “intense.”

In 1946, the family, at last reunited, moved to Delaware, Ohio, where Bob joined the faculty of Ohio Wesleyan University and completed his Ph.D. in English at the Ohio State University. During the 18 years Bob taught at Ohio Wesleyan, the family settled and grew. Their son, Robert, was born in 1947, and Carolyn, their third, in 1951. The family spent a year in England in 1954-55, where Bob conducted research for his first book on British poetry, published in 1961. Another year in England in 1961-62 yielded a second book on the work of British poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Ready for a new adventure, the family went west in 1965. Bob briefly occupied an administrative position at the University of California, San Bernardino, and in 1966 accepted a position in the English Department at Washington State University in Pullman, teaching and serving as director of Graduate Studies.

In the early seventies, Bob and Mary returned to New England, where they lived in Haverhill, N.H., and Norwich, Vt. Bob, retired from academic life, had a rare book business in Hanover, N.H., and Mary took a position as associate editor of the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine.

For over 35 years, Bob, Mary, and their children had returned again and again for summers at the family home in Waterford, and finally Bob and Mary retired there in 1982. The next 19 years were among the happiest of their lives.

In 2001, Bob and Mary moved to Piper Shores retirement community in Scarborough, returning often to Waterford for family gatherings, until Mary’s death in 2008. In 2013, Bob moved to Assisted Living at Piper Shores, where he found comfort and companionship among an extraordinarily caring staff. His children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren visited often, spending as much time as possible with him right up to the moment of his death.

Robert is survived by his daughter, Susan of Madison, Wis.; son, Robert of Waterford; and daughter, Carolyn of San Mateo, Calif.; five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren; and two nephews.

Funeral services were held on Saturday, Sept. 3 at 1:30 p.m. at Waterford Congregational Church in Waterford. Arrangements are under the care of Chandler Funeral Homes & Cremation Service, 45 Main Street, South Paris.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Salvation Army, the Waterford Library, or the Waterford Congregational Church.

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