Norman Jack Ross
Norman Jack Ross of Scottsdale, Ariz., and Coronado, Calif., an accomplished businessman and philanthropist, passed away Jan. 13, 2013, in Encinitas, Calif., from complications of Parkinson's disease.
Born April 3, 1927, in Chicago, Jack was the eldest of three children of Norman A. Ross, M.D., and Edna "Whoops" Ross, R.N. After a brief stay in San Diego, the family relocated to Phoenix.
Jack attended Kenilworth Elementary and graduated from North Phoenix High. At 17, he enlisted, and the U.S. Army sent him to Stanford University, where he studied engineering and graduated from the Army's accelerated training program. He was deployed to the European Theatre where he was assigned to the Criminal Investigations Division. After World War II, Jack was responsible for cleaning up numerous war crimes in France and Germany. He was very proud of his service to his country and remained a patriot his entire life.
Upon his honorable discharge and return to California, Jack attended the University of Southern California on a football scholarship and majored in biological science and followed up with graduate studies there. Always active and engaged, Jack was a founding member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity at USC.
During college he sought a job that would accommodate his class schedule. The answer turned out to be a partnership with his fraternity brother, Marine Captain Dick Wilson. The two bought and operated a filling station close to the campus that was a lucrative business venture and a lot of fun. Eventually Jack tried his hand at selling cars with gangbuster results.
Jack fell in love with selling automobiles. This led to his taking a position at the nearby Nash dealership in Beverly Hills where he was a natural in sales, all while attending USC. Jack's ability quickly evolved into managing multiple franchises for Jack Fraim, a WWII general who owned dealerships in Dayton, Ohio, and Los Angeles.
While at USC, Jack married Rhodanne, and their son, Robert, was born in 1951. The following year he was recruited to work for Packard Motor Company as their youngest vice president. Upon returning to Phoenix in 1955, he opened his first dealership, the Lincoln-Mercury store with his second wife, Aquanetta. They had four sons, Lance, Tom, Jack Jr., and Rex. Jack eventually owned multiple automobile dealerships in Arizona, including stores in Mesa and Scottsdale, and with his son, Tom, in the Tempe Autoplex.
Jack's approach to running his dealerships included top level personal service. He enjoyed greeting and visiting with his many customers in the showroom. After 50 years of successful operation, the dealerships were sold to the Earnhardt Auto Group.
Jack was brilliant and used his talents to make a difference in the lives of many because he cared deeply about people and the community. Some of the accomplishments, for which Jack was responsible but never sought public recognition, include his work as the founder and first president of Mesa Lutheran Hospital; serving on the Advisory Board of Surgicenter, Inc. (an innovative concept in outpatient health services).
Jack was pivotal in saving the Mesa Municipal Airport (currently known as Falcon Field), upon its virtual abandonment in the 1950s. He supported public health facilities at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix. Jack donated 200 acres of land to the Hopi Indian Community, brought the BVD (a garment manufacturing company) to northern Arizona, and donated the entire site of the Orobelle Ghost & Mining Town to the Arizona Historical Society.
He co-authored the Code of Ethics for the Arizona Automobile Dealers Association, subsequently used as a model for the National Automobile Dealers Association. Jack was instrumental in bringing Motorola to Mesa when he headed the Roslon Development Company.
He always maintained a deep commitment to the Arizona Native American population by helping to foster beneficial relationships between Hopi and Navajo leadership and sponsoring numerous state youth programs and college scholarships.
He twice ran for governor of Arizona and was honored as Time magazine's Automobile Dealer of the Year. He was a very accomplished helicopter and multi-engine airplane pilot.
During the '80s and '90s, Jack and his fiancee, Christina, had a ranch in Scottsdale where they raised championship quarter horses, and Jack and Christina were founding patrons of the Gene Autry Museum of Western Heritage in Los Angeles. Having spent most of his summers as a child at the Southern California coast, Jack never lost his love for the beach and ocean. Throughout his life he owned several motor yachts that he kept in San Diego and Coronado. He loved deep-sea fishing and cruising with friends and family.
Upon "semi-retirement," Jack and his wife, Christina, took up permanent residence in their beloved Coronado. They became involved in the community, becoming patrons of two local theaters and SD Padres season ticket holders, as well as Friends of the Coronado Hospital Foundation. Jack spent many hours sitting on his deck admiring the bustling bay front with its many ships, sailboats, Navy helicopters and airplanes.
His love of piano started when he was 7 and continued to be a passion his entire life. He brought much joy to those around him by sharing this gift so generously, making him the life of many parties.
Jack was a man of high moral standards, ethical dealings and fair play. He loved his family, the automobile business, antique cars and museums. Other favorites were big band music, ice cream, chocolate and Wild Turkey.
He is survived by his Christina; sister Barbara Ann Parsons; brother Thomas H. Ross, M.D. (Jan); and Uncle William H. Ross; brother-in-law Harry Paine (Gerry); sons Bob Foy, Lance Ross, Tom Ross, Jack Ross, Jr. (Kimberly) and Rex Ross (Sylvia); grandchildren Alison, Nicholas, Scott, Greg, Kelley, Jackson, Charlyn, Max and Katherine; three nieces, one nephew and three grandnieces.