Bill C. Ross of Tyler, Texas ended a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease on July 21, two days after his 92nd birthday and ten days following the sudden death of his wife, Carolyn.
Billy Charles Ross was born in Stephenville, Texas to Gladys and Charlie Ross. Much of his early childhood was spent by his father’s side as the unofficial mascot of a group of rugged, self-made men. His role changed to co-worker at a very young age, even delivering Mrs. Baird’s Bread by horse and wagon before school. This early independence and self-sufficiency served him well as he went on to become a hard-working star athlete with a full football scholarship to Baylor University. But the servant’s heart he witnessed in each of his parents had a greater influence on the man he became. This did not prevent him from cultivating a devilish sense of humor with a perfected art of sarcasm – most likely practiced on his only sister, Marie, to whom he remained very devoted.
At Stephenville High School Bill began dating Carolyn Martin, the local dentist’s daughter. She held his attention through their long distance college years, and their relationship developed into a devotion of heart and soul. The two married after he completed a degree in Geology at Baylor. Following four years in the USAF, Bill and Carolyn settled in Tyler as he began his career as a petroleum geologist. His passion for the challenges of oil discovery led him to success, but what he valued much more were the many close friendships he developed during his years “in the oil patch.” He loved hunting trips with good friends and thrived in the out of doors. Being a competitive “man’s man” served him well in many ways, but didn’t prevent him from being personally involved in the lives of his three little girls. From diapering to ballet recitals, Barbie dolls to pom-poms, he helped raise his daughters alongside Carolyn– always the love of his life.
Ross, as he was called by personal friends, became a leader in the community, serving on numerous Boards and giving years of service as a Tyler City Councilman. He and Carolyn were both very involved in many civic concerns including the Tyler Rose Festival; but they were most obviously and consistently devoted to the missions and activities of Marvin Methodist Church. Their time as high school Sunday School teachers revealed an affinity for connecting with young people. Mission trips to Appalachia opened their eyes to the needs of the world, increasing their love of giving generously for all of their lives. But Ross would never want these words to paint him as some sort of a saint – he loved a practical joke, smoked a clandestine cigarette at times (which his daughters would find hidden in his car), and wrestled with his grandchildren until they begged for mercy. He would say that any achievement in his life was due to the influence of his wife, and she would say the same about him. They both would agree that their shared, unshakable faith in God, who they knew through Jesus Christ, was the central core of their lives together.
Bill C. Ross leaves behind his daughters and their husbands, Melissa and John Thach, Cindy and Steve Strain, Becky and David Twiss. He had eight grandchildren: John, Will, and Charlie Thach; Ross and Whit Strain; Bryan and Ben Twiss, and Martin Twiss Hargrove. His great-grandchildren are Jack and Evelyn Thach; Scarlett, Will and Griffin Thach; Austin and Alex Strain; Margot Twiss; and Scottie and Hedge Hargrove.
A combined memorial service for Bill and Carolyn will be held at Marvin United Methodist Church on August 8 at 2:00 pm. Memorial donations in his name could be made to their church, Baylor University, Heart to Heart Hospice in Tyler, Alzheimer’s Association, or your favorite charity.