Rosemary E. Ross

Rosemary RossRosemary passed away peacefully August 25, 2011 at the age of 91. She was born November 9, 1919 in Lansing. When Rosemary was young, she developed a passion for dance and music. At age 12 she took tap and ballet lessons, and in her late teens studied piano, saxophone, viola, and organ. After graduation, she played viola with the Lansing and Kalamazoo symphonies. In her early 20s, she gave tap dance exhibitions at the Book-Cadillac Hotel in Detroit, prompting famous entertainer Peg Leg Bates to ask Rosemary to tour with him. Her mother said NO WAY so she stayed home. During WWII she started, led, and played saxophone for the all-girl big band ‘The Jills of Jive.’ They played for USO shows and service organizations in Lansing, which lead to gigs in Chicago and Louisiana.

After the war, she put her love for music on hold to raise her four sons with her late husband Donald A. Ross. In the late ‘60s Rosie got back into music to become pianist for the Brad Rafferty Combo. During that period, she used her organ skills to play for Mayflower Church many years at that time. In the ‘70s and ‘80s, she also played piano with the Pete Vanderwaal Big Band. In 1977 Rosemary became a member of the all-ladies’ band ‘The Second Time Around’ which reunited many old friends. That group played at many local functions including the Todd Martin Charity, Helen Milliken, at the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame, and a Bill Clinton campaign visit. The highlight for the band was performing for Willard Scott on the Today Show. She also did work in community theater winning the Lansing Civic Players award for musical direction in the 1991-92 season. Her last musical endeavor was when Shirley Bouck tapped her to become musical director for the variety talent show ‘The Social Security Scandals.’ The show performed locally for many years, but also performed as far away as Texas.

The family would like to thank ClareBridge of Delta for their care and compassion.

Rosemary is survived by sons Donald (Joyce), Richard (Patricia), John (Julie), and James (Edith), 8 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, August 29, 2011 at the Estes-Leadley Greater Lansing Chapel with Pastor Laura B. Gerstl officiating.  Inurnment will be in Evergreen Cemetery.  The family will receive friends from 3-5 p.m. Sunday, at Calvary Lutheran Church in Lansing, and one hour prior to the memorial service at the funeral home on Monday. Donations may be made in memory of Rosemary to McLaren Hospice.

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