Sam Ross

Dec 1, 1920 - May 17, 2012


Sam Ross was born on Dec. 1, 1920 in Bellaire, Ohio and died May 17, 2012 in Sacramento. His beloved wife Betty B. Simko Ross preceded him in death in 2005. Sam was a loving father to his daughters Barbara Maria Ross (Michael John Bassett) and Kathleen Ann Ross-Allee (John Nye Allee). His dear mother, Mary Perry and his loving brother Tee Ross, who he often joined in the Tee Ross Orchestra in Struthers, Ohio, also preceded Sam in death. He was very proud of all of his nieces, nephews and cousins and kept them close to his heart.

Dr. Ross was a Professor of History at CSU Sacramento from 1955 to 1990. In addition to his history courses, he was also particularly fond of two specially designed offerings titled ‘Historical Fiction’ and ‘Detective Fiction’; both classes were very popular. Sam spent most of his ‘free’ time researching and studying Abraham Lincoln and was still researching in his final days. His love and passion of Lincoln was strong and is reflected in his bookshelves.

Sam attended public schools in Struthers and Youngstown, Ohio and attended Youngstown College where he met and became engaged to Betty. In February 1943 Betty and Sam were married at Camp Roberts in California where he was stationed. He served in the Field Artillery from October 1942 to December 1945 and was awarded the American Theater Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Theater Ribbon with two Bronze Stars, Philippine Liberation Ribbon with a Bronze Star and the Victory Medal World War II.

After the war, Sam availed himself of the GI Bill and earned his M.A. at University of Cincinnati and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His dissertation, published as ‘The Empty Sleeve’ by the Wisconsin Civil War Centennial Commission, was well received by critics. It was dedicated to the memory of friend and mentor, William Best Hesseltine. Dr. Ross taught at the University of Cincinnati, the University of Wisconsin, Oswego State College and Kalamazoo College.

In 1954, the late Dr. Guy West interviewed Sam during a faculty recruitment tour of the Midwest. West was searching for talented professors to staff the recently expanded Sacramento State College, which had just moved to its new campus near the American River on J Street. Dr. Ross was enticed by the commitment of then Gov. Edmund G. Brown, Sr. to build a first class state college system and Betty was thrilled to come back to a part of Northern California that did not involve snowy winters.

In 62 years together, Betty and Sam blended their careers: Hers in libraries and research and his in teaching and writing. Their life together always involved higher education, libraries and historical research first at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Oswego State College in New York, Kalamazoo College in Michigan and finally at CSU Sacramento. Many favorite vacations involved Civil War battlefields and research libraries and an occasional trip to Hawaii where they enjoyed the history and the people of the Islands.

In 1989, Sam retired from CSU Sacramento and Betty retired from the Sacramento County Public Library.

Sam’s daughters will always remember his favorite pastimes including attending the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for many years, relaxing walks in Capitol Park to feed the squirrels, reading and prowling around in libraries and bookstores, listening to big band music, and playing golf at Bing Maloney and Haggin Oaks.

Sam was proud of his memberships in the ACLU, the CSU Emeritus & Retired Faculty Association, and his staunch union membership in the California State Employees Association and the California Faculty Association.

At his request, services were private. For those who wish to honor his memory, the family suggests remembrances to: California State University, Sacramento, Library, 2000 State University Drive East, Sacramento, CA 95819-6039. Condolences to: The Ross Family, 11809 American Bar Court, Gold River, CA 95670.

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