The Time Traveler has some sad news to report with the passing of longtime banker and DeSoto County resident Roe Ross this past week. News of his death was met with tears and warm reflection from all the many friends who cherished his friendship.
Ross, the longtime president of First Security Bank in Hernando, served in that capacity for more than 19 years.
Before that, Ross served as a bank officer with First Tennessee Bank and before that, the affable, gentlemanly Ross was affiliated with The Hernando Bank, which later merged with Trustmark Bank.
Ross loved to quail and rabbit hunt, loved rooting for his beloved Mississippi State Bulldogs and enjoyed drinking coffee with longtime buddies, like former DeSoto County Chancery Clerk, W.E. “Sluggo” Davis.
The pews were filled during his memorial service and plenty of folks were swapping “Roe stories,” including his good friend Bobby Black, who recalled that Roe once told his teacher that he was thankful for his “mama’s washing machine,” when called upon to reflect upon something about which he was grateful.
“He felt success in life was all about your priorities,” said Stacy Womble, customer service manager for First Security Bank. “When the bank first opened, he called us all together and said that a person’s priorities should always be God first, family second and your job third.” Womble quickly added that Roe Ross expected employees to put in a solid work day at the office and usually Roe himself was always the last to leave.
“Roe was a very special friend,” said Sluggo Davis. “He was loved by everybody.” Davis said Ross would get together with friends, old classmates and business associates and drink coffee at the old International Tractor dealership in Hernando, later Reliable Equipment and before that at Baker and Powell.
Roe Ross was 72 years old, but his legacy is timeless. He will be missed.
Speaking of “old timers,” there are plenty of examples of folks in DeSoto County who left a lasting mark upon their community. Their stories are on file at the DeSoto County Museum.
Surprisingly, many DeSoto Countians lived to the ripe old age of 100.
Moore Brown, age 100, Luther Flagg, 107, and Lizzie Houston, 110, were all born as slaves and made Mississippi their home. Their ages are documented in the U.S. Census records on file at the museum.
News of people’s deaths, even when they occurred on foreign soil, quickly spread to the pages of local newspapers like the old Times-Promoter, forerunner to the DeSoto Times-Tribune.
Crammer Ridley Boyce, a native of DeSoto County, died on July 3, 1930 in Lima, Peru. Boyce was a cotton buyer. His firm, Boyce, Gautier and Co. was one of the largest and best known cotton exporters in the world at that time. His body was transported back home for burial and a sad homecoming for relatives. It reportedly took two weeks for his body to arrive back home.
According to his obituary in the old Times-Promoter, “Mr. Boyce was a man of ability, energy and excellent business acumen and had many friends.”
What sets a community apart is the ability to preserve and cherish stories of a person long after they have passed.
A wise man once said that we all stand on the shoulders of giants.
I believe that to be true in the case of Mr. Roe Ross. I first met “Mr. Roe” about 20 years ago when I wrote a profile on him for the newspaper.
Sitting across the desk from him, I was instantly captivated by his sense of humor, professionalism and friendly nature.
I am honored to pay tribute to this fine man in this space.
We all pass through this world just once but the many friends we leave behind is testament to all of us having been on the same journey together.
The Time Traveler must now be travelin’ on to other places and times in our not too distant past.
Until next week, keep your eyes on the road and your spirit soaring among the stars.
Robert Lee Long is Curator of the DeSoto Times-Tribune.