John R. Ross; 1928-2014: Fulton County dentist served in Germany


WAUSEON — John R. Ross, a doctor of dental surgery who had a general dentistry practice, like his father, and a birder whose pursuit of nature led him to every continent, died Wednesday in his home. He was 86.

He had lung problems and was under hospice care the last four months, his wife, Martha, said.

Doc Ross, as friends called him, knew as an Ohio State University undergraduate that he wanted to pursue dentistry. He was in ROTC and after Ohio State dental school entered the Army and served in the dental corps. He was stationed in Germany.

He returned to Wauseon, his hometown, and eventually joined his father, Charles, in practice.

“Now we have a fourth generation going into dentistry,” said his wife, whose son, Eric, is a dentist in Florida and whose grandson Jack Minnillo is in Ohio State dental school.

“I think he was rather proud,” his wife said. He retired in 1986 after 33 years because of glaucoma.

He’d attended a talk years earlier by Lou Campbell, outdoors columnist for the Toledo Times and an acclaimed expert in birds. The next day at home, he took another look at the familiar birds of his neighborhood.

“All of a sudden through binoculars, a bird becomes something wonderful and interesting,” his wife said. “He was discovering the birds Lou Campbell was talking about.”

He — and often his wife — traveled the world in search of birds and other interesting animals: Papua-New Guinea; Nepal; Butan, for a “very special large crane,” she said, and on an Antarctic cruise to view emperor penguins. Through the photos he took, he shared his discoveries in talks to church, school, and civic groups.

He planted a large vegetable garden annually and was drawn to drive country roads in pursuit of wild asparagus and to northern Michigan for morels.

Bridge was another longtime avocation. He was a member of the American Contract Bridge League.

He was born Jan. 31, 1928, to Florence and Charles Ross. He was a graduate of Wauseon High School. His loyalty to Ohio State never flagged, and he and his wife attended home football games for decades.

Surviving are his wife, Martha “Marty” Ross, whom he married Dec. 19, 1954; daughters Gwen Ross and Kristi Ross; son, Eric Ross, a doctor of dental medicine; brother, Tom Ross, and three grandsons.

Visitation is 4-8 p.m. Monday in Edgar-Grisier Funeral Home, Wauseon. Memorial services will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday in Trinity Lutheran Church, Wauseon.

The family suggests tributes to Community Health Professionals Hospice; the local campaign called New Pool 4 Wauseon; the Wauseon Public Library, or a charity of the donor’s choice.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: or 419-724-6182.