Henry M. “Bud” Ross, 89, of Greenwich, died Tuesday, October 24, 2017, at Inova Fair Oaks Hospital.
Defying the odds, Mr. Ross successfully fought numerous heart problems. But, nothing deterred him from living life to the absolute fullest right up to the very end.
He was born December 19, 1927, in Cleveland, Ohio, where he grew up the youngest child of three children and the only son. As early as age 12, he built his own drill press, using materials at hand — including gutter pipe, plumbing fixtures and washing machine motor — foreshadowing the talent he would later parlay into his own business. Mr. Ross received his undergraduate degree from Case Western Reserve University, where he majored in physics and chemistry. He completed graduate studies in aeronautical and electrical engineering while serving as a carrier-based fighter pilot in the United States Navy.
In 1968, Mr. Ross founded Ross Industries Inc. at his home in Greenwich. He outgrew that space and built a new facility at Midland in 1973. He served as chairman and CEO until 1991, when he retired. Ross Industries, employing more than 100 people, continues to manufacture food processing and packaging equipment in Midland — much of it designed and patented by Mr. Ross.
Prior to starting Ross Industries, he was chief of development engineering at Aeronica Manufacturing Corp. and vice president of Keltec Industries. From 1975 until his retirement in 1990, he served on the board of directors of what ultimately became Delta Airlines. He was a former board member of The Fauquier Bank of Warrenton and past president of The Fauquier Community Theatre.
He kept busy doing countless things he enjoyed, including performing maintenance, repairs, upgrading and remodeling his home and scattered outbuildings. A significant part of that was mowing 13 acres of lawn using a machine Mr. Ross designed and built in his home shop — an example, he liked to say, of “what can happen when a hobby gets out of control.” His inventiveness and creativity were limitless, and his friends knew that – often seeking his expertise. Those consultations frequently spurred inventions that he would later patent, including a thermally-cured, adhesively-bonded horse shoe and a water-driven alternator that can be towed behind a boat. He had a lifelong fascination with cold fusion and toiled for hours in his home lab with a like-minded colleague, trying to crack the code.
Sailing was his passion for many years. Mr. Ross logged almost 100,000 miles, mostly open-ocean sailing in his sloop, "Matchless." Many of his friends sailed with him, and a few romances even blossomed on his boat, including wo weddings.
People who knew “Bud” loved him for his genius, charm, inventiveness, intellectual curiosity, problem-solving and humor. He drew from an endless store of jokes, and nobody could tell them better than he. His generosity extended not only to his family but to those he encountered in his work life and private life – from all walks and stations in life. He mentored and sponsored dozens of people, often recognizing potential when others didn’t and confident in their abilities to turn their lives around. He believed in second — and even third — chances.
He his wife of 63 years, Lois, died in 2014. For more 50 years they lived in their historic home, “The Lawn” in Greenwich. Prior to that, his career took the family all around the country, including Cincinnati, Pasadena and Arlington.
Survivors include five children, Gail Gilbert and husband Bob, Brian Ross, Holly Briggs and husband Leonard, Keith Ross and Lee, and Bonnie LaGrone and husband Dean, 12 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
He liked to say, “I feel personally responsible for the population explosion!”
He also leaves behind his older sister, Fern Spott who lives in Boca Raton, Fla.
He was preceded in death by his other sister, Sandra Johnson
His is nieces and nephews revered their “Uncle Bud.” He was respected and adored by them all.
A private family service will be held at “The Lawn,” followed by a celebration of his life at The Inn at Vint Hill from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, December 16.
Memorial contributions may be made to the American Heart Association, 4217 Park Place Court, Glen Allen, Va.