Bill Ross, the only child of Annette and James Ross of Winnipeg, spent much of his childhood on his grandparents’ rural Manitoba farm.
Bill parlayed his high school running success into a full track scholarship at the University of Arkansas, fostering an enduring love of all things Razorback and making lifelong friends on the track team.
He was one of Canada’s top middle-distance runners at the time, and this speed helped him catch the biggest prize of his life, Lilly (nee Besler) whom he met in Winnipeg, admittedly by God’s provision. For him it was love at first sight and they soon married. The next 5 years included living in Arkansas, Utah and Manitoba, graduate studies in psychology, wonderful hikes and camping, and the births of Carole (George), Charles (Nicole) and Cameron (Mary) shortly before beginning a psychologist position in the federal penitentiary system in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.
Believing “a better life” could be had out west Bill transferred to Abbotsford BC, moving months after Cindy (David) was born. He spent almost 30 years in federal corrections holding many psychologist posts, completing a distinguished career in 1988. Bill established the Abbotsford Track Club in 1968, devoting much of his free time for almost 20 years as he coached many athletes, some of whom went on to represent Canada as Olympians.
When explaining this coaching commitment, he would reply that his work in corrections taught him many inmates might have followed a different path if given opportunities to strive, excel and have someone believe in them. Although greatly committed to coaching, his love for his family meant they had many wonderful adventures together, including hiking, fishing, camping, scuba diving and ski holidays.
Following retirement, Bill and Lilly followed a lifelong dream to serve as missionaries, including 2 years as house parents and teachers in the Bahamas. After this they lived with Cameron, Mary and children on a Majuba Hill hobby farm, continuing to dote on all their children and grandchildren. During this time Bill and Lilly bought a motorhome, travelling off and on throughout North America for almost 20 years, remembering this as ‘the best time of their lives’, yet always returning home for births, key family holidays and special events.
Bill was affectionately known for his good-natured puns, bad jokes, training advice and recounting his latest PBs on the treadmill or elliptical. He remained true to his passions as competitor and coach to the end. Most significantly, Bill’s greatest life joys were his relationship with Jesus, his Lilly and children, 11 grandchildren, and 5 great-grandchildren.
He would tell any and all how much he loved Lilly, and many commented on how much they enjoyed seeing the 2 of them together in their later years, appreciating their gentle banter, clear love for each other, and Bill’s care for Lilly. Bill enjoyed talking with each family member whenever possible, reminding them that he prayed for them by name every night.
Throughout his retirement family celebrations brought him enormous joy, including a last celebration in early May for Lilly’s birthday. Bill committed to following Jesus at an early age, staying true to his Lord and Savior to the end. As his heart was failing, he was asked what was important to him and he replied, “to have peace and contentment with others and be a faithful witness to those I love”. Bill finished well, with a gentle “until we meet again” to his family and died peacefully in his beloved Lilly’s arms.
The family would like to thank his physicians Drs Dueck and Bartel, the doctors, nurses and staff who cared for him at the end, and in particular the many friends and loved ones who have cared for Bill and Lilly over the years, and now continue to love, care for and support Lilly. As well, they are grateful to the pastors and congregation of Chilliwack Alliance Church.
Bill is home and can now “Run and not grow weary!”.
Memories can be shared at email@example.com
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