A Tribute to “Sir” Robert Ross – Celebration of Life
Robert Jack Ross, 91, died at his home in Carlsbad on Saturday, January 14, 2012 following a stroke.
Born a cockney April 1, 1920, in Cheapside, London, England, within the sound of Bow Bells; he lived in Carlsbad for his last 25 years. His mother, Annie Silver, from Russia, and his father Nathan Rosenbloom (Rose), from Poland, had met and married in London. He had an older brother, Lionel.
As a young boy, he did a bit of method acting at the Unity Theatre. At age 10, he placed second in a national singing contest of boy sopranos from among 12,000 entries. As a finalist he sang his solos with orchestra at the People’s Palace. During his attendance at Coopers Boys School from 1931 through 1936, he won many academic prizes. On matriculation, he was awarded both a French and a German Travel scholarship. A visit to this school by Mahatma Gandhi in 1933 had a profound impact on Robert, and thus began his life as a pacifist. During his active school life, Robert developed an astute streetwise attitude and loved football and gymnastics. He also loved chess, music and drama – interests he retained throughout his life.
At 17, Robert hid on a boat going to Spain with the intention of joining the Spanish Civil War. Finding this was not for him, he hiked across the Pyrenees Mountains, then found boat passage back to England. Hired by the Barney Landon Variety Agency to help screen applicants, he inadvertently took on his first professional acting role in Luton.
From 1937 to 1939, Robert worked for the Commissioners of Crown Lands. In 1939, as a conscientious objector, Robert’s WWII duties were working in agriculture. From 1939 through 1946, he worked on various farms, growing and delivering food into London for the war effort. Due to a gardening discovery he made, he was chosen for a special assignment in 1944, being parachuted, unarmed, into occupied France, where he advised the French resistance on the destruction of crops – supplies intended for the enemy troops.
Following the war, he continued his career with the British Government Civil Service, where he held many management roles, culminating in 1976 as Labour Attaché, based at the British Embassy in Athens working with the countries of Greece, Yugoslavia, Croatia, and Israel.
In 1961, at a coffee shop in Red Lion Square, Robert and a few others joined attorney Peter Benenson in deciding to write multiple letters to the Portuguese government to try to free two young students who had been arrested without cause. The students were released in two months. This led to the founding of Amnesty International. He was a member and past president of Rotary in Hammersmith and worked with the Blackfriars Settlement. He helped American Sam Wanamaker find the funding for the initial stages of building the present Old Globe Theatre in London.
In 1980, following retirement from the Civil Service, Ross became Senior Lecturer for the Afro Asian Institute at Tel Aviv University in Israel for four years, before moving to the United States in 1984 – first to Nashville, TN, and then to Carlsbad, CA.
In Carlsbad, Ross has been an active member of the North San Diego Chapter of Amnesty International Group 471. He was a volunteer drama coach with the advanced theatre class at Carlsbad High School, affectionately known as “Sir” Robert, for 16 years.
Mr. Ross is survived by his wife, Vesta Rundle-Ross of Carlsbad; sons Adrian (and Karen) Ross and David (and Gill) Ross of England; grandchildren Michael (and Sharon), Adam (and Anna), Shoshana (and Dan), Toby and Yoni; great grandchildren Gabriella, Natan, and Ilan Ross, cousin Maurice Freeland; nephew Stewart (and Ann) Rose; and niece Sharon (and Carl) Roth. Also grieving are family members Diane (and Chris) Ake of San Diego; Janice (and Patrick) Druez of West Hills, Robert (and Tammie) Rundle of Mattoon, Il; Dorothy Roth and Ethel Eiseman of Sherman Oaks; Dr. Joel Feigenbaum of Seattle; and Michael (and Erin) Druez, Christa (and Kirk) Donald, Shannon (and Matt) Price, Marc (and Jessi) Druez, Kelsey Rundle, Sandra (and Sandy) Harris, Barbara (and Tom) Davis and Sandy, Jacquie and Cameron Roth of the USA. He was preceded in death by wives Ruth Ross (1963) and Edith “Debbie” Ross (1999).
His remains will be interred in Pound Lane Cemetery in Willesden, England on February 12, 2012.
Memorial gifts (in lieu of flowers) may be sent to either the theatre department of Carlsbad High School, the North San Diego Amnesty Chapter, or Amnesty International. Checks to the theatre department should be payable to CHS ASB DRAMA and mailed to Carlsbad High School, 3557 Lancer Way, Carlsbad, CA 92008. Checks to Amnesty should be payable to “Amnesty International Group 471” or “AI Group 471” and mailed to AI Group 471, P.O. Box 1296, Bonsall, CA 92003. In the UK memorial gifts may be sent to the Amnesty International Headquarters in London, 1 Easton Street, London, WC1X0DW, UK “in memory of founder member Robert J. Ross.”
Celebration of Life
Sunday, April 15
2:30 PM to 4:00 PM
Carlsbad High School
3557 Lancer Way
Carlsbad, , CA 92008