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Howard Ross

Howard I. Ross died on Aug. 12, 2009, of cardiac arrest. He was 97. He was preceded in death by his wife, Edith, who died in 2005.

Born in 1911, in Ipswich, Mass., to Herbert and Bessie Ross, he was the oldest of six children.

In his teen years he worked at Myopia Hunt Club in Wenham, Mass., training and caring for horses. He then worked as a veterinarian's assistant to Dr. Horace Lambert in Beverly, Mass., and did carpentry work at wealthy estates around Beverly's North Shore. Not one to retire, he handcrafted fireplace bellows, which turned into a full-time business for him and his wife, Edith.

In 1974, he and Edith moved to California to be closer to family. He took a part-time job as a crossing guard at West Davis Elementary School (now Cesar Chavez). For 16 years, he enjoyed the children and parents there. During this time, he built numerous cubbies, bookshelves, storage and file boxes, coat racks and various other projects requested by the staff. He also built equipment for other Davis schools and some in Sacramento.

He is survived by his son, Howard K. Ross and his wife, Margaret, of Chirton, Wiltshire, England, and his daughter, Judith Schmatjen and her husband, David, of Davis. He regularly received letters and visits from his six grandchildren and even got to enjoy his five great-grandchildren in recent months.

He is further survived by three sisters in Massachusetts: Elizabeth Atherley and Helen Hulbert of Ipswich, and Jennie Cronin of Hamilton. Two other sisters, Bessie Wood and Bertha Smith, have passed away.

A family graveside service will take place in October.

Memorials may be sent to the Children's Home Society of California, 34883 Russell Blvd., Davis, CA 95616.

To plant memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Howard Ross, please visit our flower store.


It is so nice to read all these kind words about my grandfather. He was a wonderful man with a good heart and a very keen and subtle sense of humor. My grandparents moved out to California when I was four to be closer to our family. They lived right next door to us and were an integral part of my childhood. It seems that almost all of my early memories include them. My grandfather put his carpentry skills to good use for us and we had the best lemonade stand in town. We also had a really cool go-kart and countless other things that he made with his own hands just for our enjoyment. He was a wonderful grandfather and I was so happy to introduce my baby daughter to him just six weeks before he passed away. I wish she could have had the chance to know him like I did, but I'm so happy that she got to meet him. He was one in a million. We miss you Pop-Pop!

Heidi Noon Sep 28 2009 12:00 AM

We moved to Davis in 1989 and my son, Michael, attended WDE Kindergarten 1990-90, just that one year. Michael found the transition to school difficult, but looking forward to seeing "Mr. Ross" as we crossed Anderson Road to school helped get the morning off to a good start. Howard always had a smile and an encouraging word for us, and for everyone who relied on his help at the school. He developed a nice bond with our Michael, once giving him a couple of large metal belt buckles, with horses as I recall (now I understand why). They are probably still in the box of "treasures" in the closet somewhere. We missed our favorite crossing guard when Michael transferred to another school, though I did run into Howard from time to time over the years in Lucky's during the years he was caring for his wife. I guess we often don't really know the effect we have on other people. Howard certainly had an important positive impact in our life, and I'm sure, in many others. My son is now 24 and I hope will grow to be as kind, caring and loving as our beloved crossing guard, "Mr. Ross." Our condolences to the family.

Marg Bartosek Sep 10 2009 12:00 AM

Anyone who knew my Grandpa should get a kick out of some of his stories that I summarized on my blog. The Sept 7th, 2009 post entitled "Howard I Ross, 1911-2009" at http://schmatjen.blogspot.com/ We'll miss you Grandpa! Thanks for the memories!

Marc Schmatjen Sep 8 2009 12:00 AM

Our sincere sympathy to Judy, Dave and the entire family. Mr. Ross was a good man. We have many happy memories of Mr. and Mrs. Ross with family and friends at various get-togethers, barbecues and parties. Mr. Ross was also a great help to Larry in the construction business. He was very dependable, competent and loyal with a subtle sense of humor. He will be missed!

Larry & Mary Sep 3 2009 12:00 AM

I am retired from a law enforcement agency and delivered "meals on wheels" to Howard. He was my favorite "customer," and we had very enjoyable talks limited only by my need to eventually finish my route! Howard was delightful, sincere, thoughtful, and you could tell he had a very kind disposition. I wish he were still here ... my condolences to the family.

Tom Young Sep 2 2009 12:00 AM

Mr. Ross had a very long and productive life! I appreciate all of the skilled carpentry he did for the Child Development Department of the Sacramento City Unified School District, when I was with them. My loving sympathy to Dave, Judy and their family.

Jan Jursnich Aug 31 2009 12:00 AM