James Ross

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A mass of Christian burial for Dr. James J. Ross, 66, of Bainbridge, will be celebrated on Friday, Feb. 12, at 10 a.m. at Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph at St. Joseph Church in Niagara Falls, N.Y.

Visitation will be held on Thursday, Feb. 11, from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m. in the chapel of M.J. Colluci and Son Funeral Home in Niagara Falls, N.Y.

Born Aug. 21, 1943, in Niagara Falls, N.Y., Dr. Ross died in Buffalo Hospice of Cheektowaga, N.Y., on Feb. 8, 2010.

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Dr. Ross felt passionately about the importance of education and dedicated his professional career and personal life to it. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Salem College in West Virginia, his master’s degree from Illinois State University, his doctorate from the University at Buffalo and completed post doctorate studies at Harvard University and the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

Prior to his retirement in 2000, he was the president of Mount St. Clare College in Clinton, Iowa, and took leadership positions as president of the Independent Colleges of Iowa and as an officer for National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Previous to that he was the chief executive officer at Jamestown Community College’s Cattaraugus County Campus and worked as the dean of students at Philadelphia Textile (now Philadelphia University). Other employers in his career included Buffalo State, University at Buffalo and North Carolina State. During his high school and collegiate years, he was an exceptional football player earning national All-America honors his junior and senior years at Bishop Duffy High School and was later enshrined in their Hall of Fame. He played collegiately at the University of Buffalo and professionally for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

He actively took a role in his communities, serving as president of Big Brothers Big Sisters in Clinton, Iowa, and was a nine-year member of Rotary. Dr. Ross enjoyed spending time with family and friends and included them in his favorite activities: being a Papa, golfing, hunting, fishing, traveling, wood carving and painting.

His impact on the various colleges he served is enduring and powerful. He especially led the revitalization of the Cattaraugus County Campus of Jamestown Community College, where enrollment doubled under his leadership. It was his vision that the college would build a new campus in downtown Olean, a dream realized in 2003. At Mount St. Clare College, he again more than doubled enrollment, added new major offerings and helped build the college’s reputation and endowment.

Dr. Ross cherished his family and friends, and was well-known for his selfless acts of love and generosity to them. He also had a special rapport with the students at the institutions he served, always measuring each decision he made by answering the question, “What is best for the students?” He will long be remembered as an educational visionary who served with passion, talent, commitment and vision at all of the academic institutions he worked.

He was preceded in death by his parents, John P. and Rose M. Ross of Niagara Falls.

Survivors include his wife E. Lynn Russ Ross of Niagara Falls, N.Y., with whom he shared 40 wonderful years of marriage; two sons, John J. Ross of Cresco, Pa., and James J. Ross and his wife, Kathleen, of Rochester, N.Y.; a daughter and son-in-law, Erin L. Ross Moses and her husband, James, of Hamburg, N.Y.; two sisters, Gloria J. Finnerty of Hamburg, N.Y., and Frances A. Witmer and her husband, Jon, of Orangevale, Calif.; seven grandchildren and several aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins.

He believed in giving back to his community and encourages the spirit of giving to the charity of your choice.

M.J. Colluci and Son Funeral Home in Niagara Falls, N.Y., is in charge of arrangements.