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Merle "Bud" Ross: 'Fearless' man of many hats 1927-2013


Posted By: Cheryl Moonen (email)
Date: 1/22/2015 at 23:07:12

Telegraph Herald (Dubuque, IA) - Thursday, August 8, 2013
Deceased Name: Merle "Bud" Ross: 'Fearless' man of many hats
funeral services Services for Merle "Bud" Ross will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, at St. Francis Xavier Church, Dyersville. Burial will follow in St. Francis Cemetery. Friends may call from 2 to 8 p.m. Friday at Kramer Funeral Home, Dyersville.

DYERSVILLE, Iowa - According to friends and family, sitting idly by was not one of Merle "Bud" Ross' myriad talents.

The Dyersville businessman, who died Monday at the age of 85, is credited with playing major roles in the creation of the Western Dubuque County Community School District and in bringing a hospital to his home community in the 1960s.

"He liked progress," said Wayne Drexler, a friend of Ross and former superintendent of the WD district. "He was a man that wasn't content to let things be, if he thought there was a better way to do it. We needed a hospital. We needed a school district. He was one to take those ideas and run with them."

In the early '60s, spurred by new legislation that required a minimum of 300 students per school district, local officials set out to unite Dubuque County's 61 disparate educational systems. Drexler said Ross was an integral part of that group and helped separate the county into two main districts: WD and Dubuque Community Schools.

"He was president on the first (WD) school board," Drexler said.

Later that same decade, Ross spearheaded a movement to bring a hospital to Dyersville, serving as chairman of a fundraising committee. He helped break ground on the hospital in 1967 and served as chairman of the hospital board of directors for eight years.

His efforts on the hospital project even earned him a profile in Life magazine.

"When Bud spoke, people listened," Drexler said. "He was a great help in pulling people together."

Ross' widow, Jane, said he relished the challenge of overcoming seemingly impossible odds.

"He was fearless in setting goals that seemed beyond reach and enjoyed the challenge of finding solutions," she wrote in an email to the TH.

Ross also was active in the local insurance industry. In 1955, he joined a local firm and eventually started one on his own.

In 1997, Ross retired and sold his firm to colleague Tim English.

"(Ross) was like a second dad to me," English said. "Bud was a mentor to me, and he was a true icon in the insurance industry in the state of Iowa."

English said Ross exemplified integrity in his business and taught budding insurance salespeople to "do the right thing" for the clients they represent. Ross was honored for his contributions to the industry in 2013, when he was inducted into the Iowa Insurance Hall of Fame.

Ross' varied hats included stints as Dyersville mayor, as a teacher at Xavier High School and as a minor league baseball player (he once surrendered a towering home run to Hall of Famer Ted Williams, according to his obituary). But above all, Ross' family said he was an educator and devoted to his children.

John Ross, one of Merle Ross' sons, said his father always was teaching something. In John's youth, he learned how to golf, fish and shoot photos at his father's hand.

"In his later years, he changed gears and taught me at a whole new level," John said in an email to the TH. "Things like courage, strength, optimism, determination, love and forgiveness."


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