December 22, 1923 - August 31, 2021
William Davis Ross was born on December 22, 1923 in Mount Morris, Illinois. He was the middle of three sons of Harold and Dorothy Ross. Bill went to Northwestern University where he edited it's yearbook during his junior year and was president of the college chapter of the ASME in his senior year. Upon graduation, he met Carleton College student Nancy Windes from Winnetka, IL. They were married on July 2, 1949. Bill and Nancy raised 3 children, Donald, Jeanne, and Margie, and were the proud grandparents of Sean, Jessica, Jennifer, and Jamie.
Bill was hired by IBM in January, 1953 in Poughkeepsie, NY. Over the next 37 years Bill worked in various offices and capacities in Kingston, New York City, White Plains, Rye, Tarrytown, Stamford, Connecticut and Essex Junction, Vermont. His favorite 20 years were in IBM's real estate division. As a long range planning engineer, Bill was responsible for facilitating land acquisitions for IBM's research and development and manufacturing operations that then led to IBM's decisions to open major facilities in Texas, California, Colorado, and Vermont. The latter was the most satisfying to him because of the very significant economic and cultural impact it had on this small state. He was given a senior management position during the expansion of the Vermont facility, 400 to 4000 employees in five years, in the 1960's, after which he resumed his favorite role of working within the real estate division in New York.
Bill had an interest in nature and conservation that led him to serve as chairman of the Conservation Commission of Greenwich, Connecticut. He was elected to the boards of the local Land Trust, the Connecticut Nature Conservancy and the National Audubon Society, including its National Board of Directors for seven years. In 1976 he became interested in an unusual desert plant called jojoba, the oil of which would replace reliance on sperm whale oil, and he served on an advisory board about growing it on the Apache reservation in Arizona.
In 1966 Bill and Nancy acquired land in rural Duxbury, Vermont. Most of this they later transferred to the Camels Hump State Forest, but they kept a portion that includes a beautiful waterfall. In 2005 they moved to Wake Robin Retirement Community, in Shelburne, Vermont where Bill's love of gardening enabled him to joyfully distribute hundreds of zinnias each summer. His enthusiasm for honey bees resulted in the honorary Bill Ross Apiary, intended to increase interest in pollinators among the Wake Robin staff and residents.
Both Bill and Nancy participated in over a dozen Earthwatch and Elderhostel projects over the years. Bill has erected dozens of bluebird houses and several osprey platforms, and has mentored beekeeping.
Bill bid a loving farewell to Nancy, his wife of over 70 years, last March. Then again, on August 31, to their three children and Jeanne's husband Jim, to their four grandchildren's families: Sean and his wife Alice, Jessica and her partner Mason, Jennifer and her partner Sarah, and Jamie, as well as to their great-grandchildren Jason and Adora all of whom gave him much joy and love. Bill was blessed with great good fortune in marriage, friendship and life.
The entire Family would like to express our gratitude to everyone at Wake Robin for all that they have done to care for Nancy and Bill throughout the CoVid-19 pandemic. Memorial contributions may be sent to The Wake Robin Employee Assistance Fund, Terri O'Brien, Business Operations Manager, 200 Wake Robin Drive, Shelburne, VT 05482.
Published by Greenwich Time on Sep. 17, 2021.