Donald J. Ross

August 2008

Dr. Donald J. Ross dies following heart attack

It is with tremendous sadness that I announce to our university family, the passing, Sunday, August 24, of one of the Fairfield greats, Dr. Donald J. Ross, retired professor and chair of biology.

Dr. Ross is best remembered for his tireless and enthusiastic championing of his students. He instilled in them a love of research and science and throughout a 48-year career guided over 800 future doctors and dentists into medical schools, as well as countless others into other science and health fields. Many will remember the heartfelt tributes from the many graduates who returned in 1998 to his Testimonial Dinner to thank Dr. Ross once again for the impact he had on their lives.

Dr. Ross was a strong proponent of Jesuit education and lived his life committed to the principles of St. Ignatius Loyola. With a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Fordham and a master's degree from Boston College in biology, he began his career at Fairfield in 1950, going on to earn his Ph.D. in physiological chemistry from Fordham. He loved teaching and had continued to teach a course each semester since his retirement.

We extend our most sincere condolences to Dr. Ross's beloved wife, Christine, and his children, Edmund, senior designer in Design and Digital Print Services, Christine Earls, an instructor here in biology, and Donald J., Jr., a deacon at St. Anthony's Church in Fairfield and their many family members and friends.

Orin L. Grossman, Ph.D.
Academic Vice President


Ross - Dr. Donald J. Ross, Sr., beloved husband of Christine Laforet Ross, died peacefully Sunday, August 24, 2008. Born March 26, 1928 in Brooklyn, New York, he was the son of the late Mary Elizabeth Stammer Ross and Daniel Joseph Ross. He graduated from Brooklyn Prep, and earned a Bachelors degree in Chemistry from Fordham University, a Masters degree in Biology from Boston College, and a Ph.D. in Physiology from Fordham. In the early 1950's, Dr. Ross worked nights running the clinical chemistry lab at St. Vincent's Hospital while teaching full time at Fairfield University. Dr. Ross was a Biology Professor and advisor to pre-medical students at Fairfield University for 48 years. He also served as Biology Department Chair for many of those years. Following his retirement in 1998, he continued to teach courses at Fairfield as a Professor Emeritus of Biology until the time of his death. Dr. Ross was an author of many journal articles on cardiac enzyme biochemistry and co-author of a book on the same subject. He received the Fairfield University Silver Jubilee Faculty Award in 1975 and was recognized as one of the Outstanding Educators in America. In addition, he was honored with the Fairfield University Distinguished Faculty Service Award in 1978 and Fairfield University Teacher of the Year Award in 1988 in appreciation for outstanding teaching and dedication to Fairfield University students. He is listed in various honorary publications such as Who's Who in the East and Who's Who in American Education. He was inducted into the Fairfield University Chapter of Alpha Sigma Nu, the National Jesuit Honor Society in 1988. He also served as Chapter advisor for the Fairfield University Alpha Epsilon Delta Pre-Medical Honor Society for many years. His enormous love of books led him to serve on the Fairfield Public Library Board and later as Chair of the Friends of the DiMenna-Nyselius Library at Fairfield University for which he was honored with a plaque in recognition of his dedication and service. Fairfield University established the Dr. Donald J. Ross Biology Professorship Fund as a permanent tribute to his record of teaching, research, and advising. Throughout his career, he has enabled over 800 students to enter medical, dental, and graduate schools. Dr. Ross was a man of great Faith and truly lived the Jesuit ideal of being "a man for others." He always referred to his work as being done "ad majorem dei gloriam" - for the greater glory of God. Dr. Ross was a true "Renaissance Man." He received the Fordham Philosophy Graduation Medal and continued an active philosophy reading program throughout his life. He also had a great love of classical music and jazz, often sitting down at the piano to entertain family and friends. His knowledge of science, literature, and the arts was surpassed only by his great love for his family.

His wife, children, and grandchildren were the joy of his life and nothing made him happier than spending time laughing and sharing a meal with them. His greatest legacy was teaching the Catholic Faith to his children by the example of his life.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by his daughter Christine Ross Earls and her husband Richard of Monroe, and sons Edmund C. Ross of Fairfield and Deacon Donald J. Ross, Jr. and his wife Arlene of Fairfield. He is also survived by his grandchildren Julie and William Earls of Monroe and Mary Kate, Mark, Daniel and John Ross of Fairfield, as well as several nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his sister Margaret Ross Wade, her husband Ronald, and his brothers-in-law Dr. Eugene and Justin Laforet. Donations may be made in Dr. Ross' memory to either: Little Sisters of the Poor, c/o Mother Mary Bernard, l.s.p. St. Joseph's Residence 1365 Enfield Street, Enfield, CT 06082 or American Heart Association, 1 Union Street Suite 301, Robbinsville, N.J. 06891.

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