Friday, June 15, 2007

The Rev. Dr. James F. Ross, December 15, 1927 - May 28, 2007

Jim's memorial service and committal in the VTS cemetery was today. The service was a fine tribute to Jim, with many people speaking words of remembrance and with a fine sermon that incorporated some of Jim's own thoughts from a sermon he himself gave not too many months ago. The president of Doane College, Jonathan Brand, travelled all the way to say a few words in honor of their distinguished alum, to whom they had granted an honorary doctorate awhile back. Robert J. Bull from Drew University spoke of all the archaeology that he and Jim had done together, including digs at Shechem and Cessaria Maritime. He had Jim's son Steven hold up his hand to show the results of an accident long ago at one of the digs. Steven himself spoke, mentioning many of the things that his dad had taught him. I can't begin to do justice to all that was said. It sure was clear that Jim loved the Hebrew Bible and Archaeology, and was a veritable encyclopedia of information. He loved to research things, and search truth out, taking real joy in the pursuit of new knowledge. He loved trying all sorts of new things, throwing himself into them with gusto, at least for limited intense periods. Alongside his academic robe hung a leather flight jacket, which symbolized his award winning service as a test pilot for IBM flight-simulation computer programs. Jim did a lot of work and exegesis on behalf of gay and lesbian persons from early on, especially supporting folks in his own denomination, the UCC. Jim was thoroughly committed to the UCC, but equally loved teaching in VTS's Episcopal milieu. I think above all it was clear from the memorials that Jim loved his large family and many friends. He thought it was terrific how people could "clump" together, and he got himself involved in a lot of "clumpings" from which he derived much joy and strength and which he used to bring joy to others. Well, so much more was said, but perhaps these few bits may suggest the overall tenor of the service. It was a privilege and inspiration to be included. ---SLC


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