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Sherman H. Ross

Dec 23, 2016

Sherman H. Ross, 92, of Shepherdstown, died Monday, Dec. 19, 2016, at Hospice of the Panhandle.

He was born in Stiltner, West Virginia, on Sept. 22, 1924, the son of Kerrick (Kirk) and Vicie Napier Ross.

After service in the Army Air Corps ( B-17) during World War II, he married Elinor M. Stephenson, of Meridian, Mississippi. They would have celebrated their 71st anniversary next month.

The G.I. Bill allowed him to attend Yale University, where he was awarded his degree in English and French in 1949. He returned to rural West Virginia and requested to teach in a one-room school near his birthplace, similar to the one he attended. For him, teachers opened the door to experiencing the world and he desired to share the same opportunity with others. He and his family moved to California in the mid 1950s, where he continued to teach in the Fresno Unified School District.

He also taught English to the foreign-born in evening classes. He worked construction during the summers, jokingly saying his summer job allowed him to afford to teach the rest of the year. In 1964, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to Belgium. After returning from Europe, he entered the U.S. Foreign Service. His posts included Algeria, Dahomey (now Benin), Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Pakistan, along with assignments in Washington, D.C. In addition to his responsibilities as Cultural Affairs Officer and Public Affairs Officer, he continued to teach as a guest instructor in host-country universities.

His unassuming and genuine interest in and affection for others, resulted in lifelong friendships with many people world-wide. He retired from active Foreign Service in 1989, after serving on the Foreign Service Grievance Board.

Sherman and Elinor moved to Shepherdstown in 1977. They were volunteers with Meals-on-Wheels, the Shepherdstown Community Club, Friends of Music, the Millbrook Orchestra and the White House. He was the National Conservation Training Center’s Volunteer of the Year in 2008.

Sherman was active long into retirement. He loved his 10 acres and his vegetable garden. At 73, he rode a bicycle along 1,000 km of the Loire River in France. French media wrote about “the old man from America.” His biking tours included the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, New England and Canada, as well as the countryside surrounding Shepherdstown. He and Elinor enjoyed numerous Elderhostel adventures, as well as intergenerational trips with his older grandson.

He was preceded in death by his son, Glenn “Stephen” Stephenson, and siblings, Otis Ross and Betty Faye Lane.

He is survived by his wife, Elinor; and daughters Maylene (R. Luther Reisbig) and Laurie (Charles F. Wieland); grandchildren Katharine and Kerrick Reisbig and Eleanor, Duncan and Lillian Wieland; his sisters, Flora Russell, West Virginia, Fanny Ruth Blum and Mona Sue Thornburg, California and Sally Mae Taylor, Arizona; and many nieces and nephews. He leaves behind many dear friends.

Years ago, Sherman arranged to have his body donated to WVU’s Medical School. His devotion to education continues after his death. A memorial will be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Hospice of the Panhandle, 330 Hospice Lane, Kearneysville, WV 25430, or to SAIL (Shepherdstown Area Independent Living, PO Box 209, Shepherdstown, WV 25443. “A jamais.”