James “Jim” Emerson Ross passed away at the age of 73 on April 3, 2013 from complications due to Parkinson’s disease.
Ross retired from San Diego State University in 1999, earning the title of professor emeritus in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.
Ross was born on June 24, 1939, to Gladys and Donald Ross in Minneapolis.
His father died when he was 5 years old, leaving Ross’ mom to raise him on her own. His cousins, who lived nearby, became like siblings to him and remained dear to him throughout his life.
From a young age, Ross had an impressive math talent and often spoke of how mathematics problems were like a game to him.
Later, during his years at the University of Minnesota, he made lifelong friends who would become surrogate uncles and aunts to his children. Ross described that time as some of the most treasured years of his life. He was very active playing tennis, basketball, soccer and golf with his friends in the math department.
While in college, he agreed to a blind date with a beautiful redhead, Gail Flaten. Ross was smitten, and the two married in 1964. They had two children; Kyle, born in 1965, and Kari, born in 1968.
From student to professor
Ross continued to excel in his mathematics education. In 1969, he earned his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. That same year, he was offered a job at SDSU and left with his family for the West Coast.
He enjoyed conducting research and writing papers with partners on abstract mathematical theories. After a few short years, Ross was awarded tenure at SDSU. When he retired in 1999, he was awarded the status of professor emeritus.
A passion for life
A passion and intense curiosity for life kept Ross on the move. Each summer he would pack up his family to visit his mother in Minneapolis. These road trips would become adventures that often included detours to Seattle or Arkansas.
At 40 years old, Ross was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. His wife, Gail, was his sole care provider much of this time. Throughout his struggle with the disease, Ross never complained or felt sorry for himself. He continued to have a zest for life and was an eternal optimist in this battle.
Many will remember Ross as a social, fun man who was always the last to leave a party!