More on Judge Ross

Here is the Judge’s obituary:


Ross, Hon. Donald R.
Jun 8, 1922 – Dec 18, 2013
Judge Donald R. Ross, 91, passed away with his family at his side on December 18, 2013, following a long illness. He is survived by his loving wife of 70 years, Janice Cook Ross, and his five children and their families: Jane and Randy Moody of Lincoln, Ken and Sharon Stephan of Lincoln, Rebecca Ross and Dennis Linder of River Forest, IL, Joannie and Tom Wilson of Omaha and Dean and Sharon Ross of Omaha. He is also survived by 14 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.
Judge Ross was born near Orleans, Nebraska, and attended high school at the Nebraska School of Agriculture in Curtis, graduating in 1939. He attended the University of Nebraska (1939-41) and the University of Nebraska College of Law (1946-48). In October 1942 he entered the Army Air Corps and flew 46 missions as the lead bombardier with the 306th Bomb Group from 1943-45. He was promoted to Major and was twice awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
He practiced law in Lexington, Nebraska, with Cook & Ross, and was elected mayor of Lexington in 1953. He was appointed by President Eisenhower as U.S. Attorney for Nebraska and served from 1953-56. He practiced law with Swarr, May, Royce, Smith, Andersen and Ross from 1956-71. He served as vice president and general counsel for ConAgra from 1969-71.
Prior to his appointment to the bench he was active in state and national Republican politics, serving as Republican National Committeeman for Nebraska from 1958-70 and as vice chairman of the Republican National Committee from 1965-70. In 1971, he was appointed by President Nixon to serve as U.S. Circuit Judge for the 8th Circuit; he served as an active and senior circuit judge for 31 years.
Judge Ross’ remains will be inurned at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. A MEMORIAL SERVICE will be planned by the court at a later date. A scholarship in Judge Ross’ honor has been established at the University of Nebraska College of Law; memorial gifts may be directed to it through the University of Nebraska Foundation, 1010 Lincoln Mall, Lincoln, NE 68508.

14151 Pacific St. 402-391-1664

Published in Omaha World-Herald from Dec. 19 to Dec. 20, 2013


3 responses

  1. Rich, Judge Ross’s life and career are a monumental testimony to the value of public service. Although I’m sure he made a comfortable living, a man with his characteristics and brains could probably have gotten about as rich as anyone rationally could want to be. Although nobody rationally wishes for wars, it’s something I wonder about my generation and myself. World War II did so much to shape his generation. Men (and it was only men back then) served and fought under horrific conditions. Women took up the home front and proved that they could keep the industrial machine running just fine. A lot of Americans died. The ones who didn’t were determined to make the world better. I suppose after you’ve flown 46 missions in a turtle-slow bomber while getting shot at by anti-aircraft guns that getting called on for Pennover v. Neff doesn’t seem so scary.

    I like to think that I’ve worked hard, done well and served my community. By contemporary standards, I have probably done better than most. But I haven’t taken off 46 times knowing darn well that I might not make it back alive. An obituary like that should give a lot people, including me, plenty of reason to be humble. Best, Pat.

  2. The greatest generation: One member flew 46 missions in World War II, then had a distinguished career – and lived to age 91. That says it all. Elaine Mittleman

  3. Pat,

    As usual, your insights are spot on.

    My impression always was that Judge Ross viewed his WWII service as the very most important part of his life. My sense was and is that the Judge came to “love” his fellow flyers in ways we civilians can’t imagine.

    An example:

    After the Judge flew his 25th mission, the Army Air Corp. said he was done. He went back to America, saw his wife Janice and then put in papers to go back for a second tour. I am told that after his last (46th) mission, the commanding officer insisted that Ross stop flying. You see, being the lead bombardier was like an infantry soldier being “on point.” There was a very good chance that you would draw the first and most savage fire. Doing that 46 times tempted fate in ways that are hard to imagine.

    Years later, when I clerked for the Judge, he served as an officer in and organized reunions for the bomb group’s veterans’ association. I recall one in Omaha where Don really did it up right. It included a formal dinner at Offutt’s Stratcom, with the full military splendor that is the hallmark of such things. By the way, Don was the organizer for the 1968 Republican Convention in Miami famously captured in Mailer’s Miami and the Seige of Chicago Don was a real master of such things.

    So, you are right. “World War II did so much to shape his generation.” More specifically, that experience served as the “child” of the “man” that Ross would later become.

    All the best.


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