Norman Jack Ross

Ross, Norman Jack
April 3, 1927 - January 13, 2013, Norman Jack Ross, of Scottsdale AZ, aka "Mr. Touchdown," an accomplished businessman, inventor, and philanthropist, passed away peacefully in Encinitas, California at the age of 85 from complications of Parkinson's disease. Jack was the oldest of three children, born in Chicago, IL to parents Norman A. Ross M.D. and Edna "Hoops" Ross. When Jack was 2, his parents moved to Phoenix, where he attended Kenilworth Elementary and North High School. Jack enlisted in the United States Army and was sent to Stanford University, where he studied engineering and graduated from the Army's accelerated training program. He was deployed to the European Theatre where he served under General George Patton and was assigned to the Criminal Investigations Division or CID. Those who knew him would swear that his traits were that of George C. Scott's depiction of Patton in the movie. Upon his Honorable Discharge and return stateside, he attended and received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Southern California. Jack was always active and engaged. He was a founding member of the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity at USC. He partnered in an automobile service station from which he occasionally sold used cars. This lead to his taking a position at the nearby Nash dealership in Beverly Hills, where he was a natural and outstanding in sales, all while still attending USC. Jack's ability quickly evolved into managing multiple franchises for Jack Fraim, a WWII General who owned multiple dealerships in Dayton, Ohio and Los Angeles. He was then recruited to work for the Packard Motor Car Company and became their youngest marketing VP in 1952. In 1955 he returned to Arizona and opened Jack Ross Lincoln Mercury with his wife and co-promoter of the business, Acquanetta, a former model and movie actress with RKO and Universal Studios. After 50 years of operation the franchise was sold to the Earnhardt Auto Centers. Longtime residents of Phoenix will remember Jack and Acqua's "Movie of the Week" sponsorship on Channel 5, their support for many causes and their innovative use of early television to promote cultural groups and charities including: Mesa Lutheran Hospital, the Heard Museum, Phoenix Indian School, The Stagebrush Theater, Phoenix Symphony, and valley disadvantaged youth. Jack was brilliant and used his talents to make a difference in the lives of many because he cared deeply about people and the community. Some of the accomplishments for which Jack was responsible, but never sought public recognition include his work as the Founder and First President of the Mesa Lutheran Hospital, serving on the Advisory Board of Surgicenter, Inc. (an innovative concept in out-patient health services), intervention to save the Mesa Municipal Airport, now known as Falcon Field, upon its virtual abandonment in the 1950s and runways being encroached upon and turned into agricultural fields, and support for public health facilities at Sky Harbor Airport. Jack donated 200 acres of land to the Hopi Indian Community, brought the BVD (a garment manufacturing company) to northern Arizona, donated the entire site of the Oro Belle ghost and mining town to the Arizona Historical Society, co-authored the Code of Ethics for the Arizona Automobile Dealers Association, subsequently used as a model for the National Association form, and was instrumental in bringing Motorola to Mesa when he headed the Roslon Development Company. Along with his wife, he maintained a deep commitment to the Arizona Native American population by helping to foster beneficial relationships between Hopi and Navajo leadership and sponsored numerous state youth programs and college scholarships. He served as President of the Arizona Auto Dealers Association, and twice ran for Governor of the State of Arizona. He was a member of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Among his many accolades he was honored as Time Magazines "Dealer of the Year". He was a man of high moral standards, ethical dealings, and fair play. He loved the automobile business, antique cars and museums. He was an avid reader, as well as an accomplished helicopter and multi-engine airplane pilot. He enjoyed deep-sea fishing, playing the piano and organ, his daily walks and big band music, especially Glen Miller and Benny Goodman. He was partial to ice cream, chocolate, and Wild Turkey Whiskey. He is survived by his wife Christina, sister Barbra Ann Parsons, brother Thomas H. Ross M.D, sons: Robert Foy, Lance Ross, Tom Ross, Jack Jr. (Kimberly) Ross, and Rex (Sylvia) Ross, grandchildren: Nicholas, Alison, Scott, Greg, Kelley, Jackson, Charlyn, Max and Katharine. Jack was loved and will be missed. A private memorial service will be held. For memorial contributions, the family asks that you consider donating to Parkinson's Research.

Published in The Arizona Republic on Jan. 18, 2013