July 31, 1920 — June 24, 2018
Longtime Corvallis resident, Jackson Weaver Ross, Jr., died at age 97.
Born July 31, 1920, in the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C., to Agnes Arnold Ross and Jackson Weaver Ross, he attended Washington Lee High School in Ballston, Virginia, and graduated in 1938 from Central High School in Washington, D.C. He played football and was a member of the Cadet Corps, including three summers in the Citizens Military Training Corps (CMTC), a horse cavalry division stationed at Forts Myers and Belvoir, Virginia. Following graduation from high school, he went to work at the FBI.
Jack married Daisidel (Del) Slate in December 1941. FBI agents were frozen in their jobs at the start of World War II, so he was assigned to the Legal Attaché's office in the U.S. Embassy in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as a confidential file analyst. While there, he participated in apprehending German U-boat saboteurs who had landed on the beach off the coast of Rio.
He enlisted in the Army in 1943 and received basic training at Camp Blanding, Florida, before joining the 70th Infantry Division in Europe. Ironically, the 70th Division had been activated at Camp Adair near Corvallis (a place Jack had never heard of before). During basic training, Jack earned expert marksman as an antitank gunner with machine guns and 37-mm cannon, then, in Europe, served in 60 mm mortar sections. In March 1945, while still in Europe, his daughter Susan was born.
In 1946, he briefly returned to the FBI, later moving his family to Tangent, where his wife's parents were farming 80 acres. While there, his daughter Nancy (Dayana) was born. Jack and Del purchased the farm from her parents and developed a small dairy herd, selling milk to the Dairy Co-op in Salem.
While on the farm, he attended Oregon State College under the GI Bill. He soon realized he couldn’t farm and be a student at the same time, so they sold the farm and moved to North Albany. Jack earned a BS in 1951 as a Farm Crops major, and was hired as a Seed Certification Specialist under Harold Finnell and Dr. Don D. Hill at OSC. In 1952, the family moved to Madras, Oregon, where he was a Jefferson County Extension Agent and where third daughter Peggy was born.
The family returned to Corvallis in 1955, where Jack worked in a series of positions with the Extension Service: Farm Crops Specialist, Area Supervisor, Community Development Specialist and finally Assistant Director, County Programs. In 1959, he received a Kellogg Foundation Fellowship and earned an MA in Extension Administration at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He returned to work at Oregon State, and after a successful career retired in August 1975 at age 55.
Del passed away in 1982 after 41 years of marriage.
Later, Jack married a good friend of Del’s, Marnie Leber, and acquired another daughter, Harriett Smith. Marnie died in 2011.
A vocal advocate of volunteerism and early retirement, Jack was actively involved in community services in Corvallis, primarily through long-time membership in Kiwanis. He scheduled drivers and delivered meals to housebound seniors for Meals on Wheels and was honored by that organization for 28 years of service. He supported the Vina Moses Center, the Corvallis Boys and Girls Club, the Benton County elections office, and was one of the primary sources for the Christmas lights that grace downtown and the courthouse. He was the consummate Christmas light repairman for everyone, including the Mario Pastega Christmas Light Display, and many people brought him their broken strings of lights to repair. Jack spent hours watching the golf channel and testing light bulbs. He often joked that repairing lights “kept him out of the pool hall,” but he also remarked that he thought “the real pleasure in life is doing things for other people.”
Jack was named Corvallis Senior First Citizen in 1994. The same year he and Steve Besse went to Belarus for the Volunteers in Overseas Cooperation Association (VOCA), an AID affiliate.
He enjoyed golf, woodworking projects, gardening, travel, family gatherings, repairing and recycling everything, operating his computer, classic western movies, and keeping up with family members. He enjoyed 22 years as “the mole man,” working on rodent control at the Trysting Tree golf course.
Active up until a few weeks before he passed, he was still serving his community by working with fellow Kiwanians to install grab bars for people in need.
He was preceded in death by his parents; brothers, William and Donald Ross; and both wives.
He is survived by daughters, Susan McNutt; Dayana Patterson (Don); Peggy Mullett (Michael); and Harriett Smith (Justin); grandchildren, Matthew Wheeler; Rebecca Simmons (Jud); Ruth Wheeler; Jaya Thompson; Christopher Thompson; Antoine Farman; and Cami Farman; and great-grandchildren, Josh Greenough, Jack and Henry Simmons, and Izzy and Tehina Wilson. He left behind many beloved nieces, nephews, as well as close friends he considered family, including Pat Malone and Sally Morita.
The family wishes to thank the very special caregivers at Samaritan Evergreen Hospice House in Albany.
At his request, only private services will be held.
Memorial contributions may be sent to the Corvallis Boys and Girls Club for the Jackson Ross Memorial bench and planter, 1112 NW Circle Blvd., Corvallis, OR 97330 (www.bgccorvallis.org) or the Vina Moses Center.
Arrangements were made with DeMoss-Durdan Funeral Home and Crematory, www.demossdurdan.com.