Deceased April 29, 2022

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In Memory

John Ross died in St. Louis on April 29, 2022, of natural causes. He is survived by his daughter, Lucy Ross, and two sisters, Helen Ross and Lucy Natkiel.  

Like many of us new to Amherst in September 1975, John auditioned for the Freshman Glee Club but did not initially make the cut. (Ours was a strong class.) Chagrined but undaunted, he appealed to Bruce McInnis. (How many of us would have been as brave?) He was granted a re-audition and became a reliable bass voice for the next four years.

No one could miss the black and white Corvette John brought to campus his freshman year. That year, almost everything was fun—frisbee on the quad, mixers at Smith and Holyoke (though he hated disco), fraternity parties (though he didn’t care for beer), $1 movies at Merrill—even classes. It rained every weekend that fall, but life at Amherst was fun. So absorbed was he that Ross eventually had to be reminded by a family friend to please call his mother to let her know he had arrived safely. The year ended with John pledging Chi Phi, which was reliably enlivened by his presence afterward.

John’s interests were varied and eclectic; many took him off campus. They included canoeing on the Connecticut River, shooting at the local sportsman’s club and skydiving at the drop zone in Orange. Skydiving was a special passion, and John made many jumps with his square chute, purple and black, of course. They included a jump into the 1978 Amherst-Williams football game; John landed neatly on the 50-yard line at halftime. President Ward later remarked that it was the most exciting part of a 7-2 loss to the Ephs.

John’s Amherst career ended as it had begun, with the Glee Club. After graduation, he traveled with the group on its 1979 concert tour of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.  Particular highlights on a trip full of them were a visit to Monaco, where John danced at the Palace with Princess Grace and recouped the cost of his trip in the casino; a visit to the Normandy beaches in France, where his uncle had been a paratrooper; and performing in Austria as the Glee Club’s yodeling soloist in “Switzer Boy.” A friend remarked of John after his passing, “I think he was so busy enjoying life that he didn’t always consider how to extend it.”  The John Ross we knew at Amherst would consider that a compliment.

Timothy Luehrman ’79