Jerry Francis Ross
December 8, 1938 – October 19, 2021
Preceded in death by parents, Louis and Agnes Ross; brother, Robert (Gayle); sister, Joan; daughter, Jill. Survived by brother, Tom (Shirley); son, Jay (Stacie); nieces and nephews.
The family will receive friends Monday, October 25th from 6pm to 7pm followed by VIGIL SERVICE at 7pm, all at West Center Chapel. MASS OF CHRISTIAN BURIAL: Tuesday, October 26th at 10:30am at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church, 6116 Dodge Street, Omaha, NE. Memorials are suggested to Omaha St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church.
To view live broadcast of the Vigil Service and Mass, please go to www.heafeyheafey.com and click the “View Live Cast” button on the home page.
Jerry Francis Ross was born December 8, 1938, in South Omaha, Nebraska, where he grew up working from a young age in the family grocery store. He attended Our Lady of Lourdes Grade School, then Omaha Cathedral High School, where he earned his varsity letter in football as a linebacker and captain of the team. After a hard-fought victory over rival Holy Name, an Omaha Sun article referred to him as “little but mighty.” He graduated in 1957. Later that year he was rear-ended by a drunk driver, which broke his neck and began his lifelong battle with spine problems.
He began college at Omaha University, but distractions made it difficult for him to concentrate on studies. Chief among these was his obsession with racing cars. Following several run-ins with the law, he lost his driving privileges after racing an off-duty police officer. In 1958, after dropping out of school and having no driver’s license, he used all his “spare time” to build a race car.
With help from older brother, Tom, Jerry built “The Lemon,” a 1933 Ford dragster with injected big-block Olds power and began competing across the Midwest in the A/Altered class. After an undefeated season, he finished runner-up at the 1959 AHRA Nationals, handed his first-ever loss by Herb Hoover’s 1933 Ford. He came back in 1960 and won the AHRA Nationals in Kansas City by defeating Ted Cooper’s blown/injected Hemi-powered 1937 Fiat, called “The Pipe Dream,” out of San Diego, California. This made Jerry the first Nebraskan to ever win a national championship in motor sports.
Jerry sold his race car, using half the proceeds to pay his way through college, and the other half to buy brother Bob’s 1951 Oldsmobile. He graduated with a BS in General Science and began virology research at the University of Nebraska. A few years later he entered the private sector and developed several livestock vaccines that entered commercial production. He married in January 1968, a son, Jay, was born in November 1968, and a daughter, Jill, was born in April 1971.
In 1970 he began work as salesman for Dearborn Chemical Company, a division of W. R. Grace. Within two years he was top salesman for the entire US. Jerry was promoted to District Sales Manager, overseeing a territory of 13 states, and consistently exceeded his sales goals. He became disenfranchised with corporate politics, and in 1980 founded Ross Chemical Incorporated, which he grew to be a leading industrial chemical and engineering firm. Several of his customers did business with him for over 40 years.
With help from his son, Jay, in the early 2000’s he built Omaha’s “Pagoda House,” as featured in several Omaha World Herald articles.
In 2007 Jerry underwent his 5th major spine surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. While being transported back to Omaha for recovery, Jerry’s legs filled with DVT blood clots. This became a problem that afflicted him for the rest of his life.
Jerry was a 42-year parishioner of St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church, where he attended daily mass.
He leaves behind his brother, Tom (Shirley); son, Jay (Stacie); nieces; nephews; and his 1951 Oldsmobile, which is now being cared for by Jay.
Jerry is best remembered as a goal-oriented, uncompromising, highly-driven, hard-charger who never took no for an answer.