It is with a great deal of sadness that I announce the passing of one of the University of Florida College of Medicine’s longest-serving and most beloved faculty members, Dr. John Joseph Ross, a professor emeritus within the Department of Pediatrics. Dr. Ross passed away yesterday, July 17, at the age of 83.
A graduate of Duke University and a member of the Harvard Medical School Class of 1956, Dr. Ross contributed greatly to the University of Florida and the Gainesville community during the almost five decades he served on the College of Medicine faculty. Dr. Ross joined the University of Florida in 1965 as Chief of the Division of Pediatric Neurology and served in that position for several decades. As a researcher, he was expert on the subject of learning disabilities in children, studying the causes behind conditions such as dyslexia. Among his accomplishments was the establishment of a unique Learning Disability Program, created in tandem with the UF College of Education. This program was designed to address learning disabilities in children and created a special classroom on central campus to serve the needs of those children with the most significant impairments. To John’s credit, many of the children served by this program became successful in school and enjoyed very successful careers. Because of Dr. Ross’ advocacy and dedication, this program has been continuously funded by the Florida Legislature for more than 40 years and has been emulated by other universities in Florida and throughout the nation.
More recently John became a vocal advocate for patients in need of lung transplants and was successful in obtaining more than $1 million from the Florida Legislature to support research at UF in acute and chronic rejection after pulmonary transplantation.
A native of Jacksonville, Fla., Dr. Ross was a lifelong athlete. At Robert E. Lee High School in Jacksonville, he was part of a track team that won five straight state championships in the 1940s, and he started playing tennis at age 9. He played competitively throughout college and the grueling years of his medical training. This passion inevitably led him to face off against Arthur Ashe in a doubles match and he continued playing throughout his life.
This love of athletics led him to develop community educational opportunities for parents, coaches and young athletes to learn about appropriate training for competitive athletics, nutrition and the risks of high school competition. These activities have had a very positive tangible effect on the Gainesville community.
In addition to his role as an academician, John is remembered by his friends and associates as an untiring advocate for his patients and their families, an exceptional doctor, a mentor to young physicians and an incredibly supportive friend and colleague. Throughout his professional career, he manifested the finest characteristics of our medical profession.
Our thoughts and prayers go to his wife, Nancy, and his family. John’s professional contributions and his personal interactions will be deeply missed by all of us.
A rosary service will be held at 5 p.m., Friday, July 20, followed by a viewing and visitation at 5:30 p.m. at Williams Thomas Funeral Home, 823 N.W 143rd St. (CR 241 North), Newberry, FL. On Saturday, July 21, a mass will be held at 9 a.m. at Holy Faith Catholic Church, 747 NW 43rd St., Gainesville, with burial to follow. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made in his memory to the John Ross Memorial Fund at the University of Florida Foundation, PO Box 14425, Gainesville, FL, 32604.
Michael Good, M.D.
Dean, UF College of Medicine