Shirley S. Ross
Middleton – Shirley Spohn Ross, 89, died on Monday, December 16, 2019 after a brief hospitalization.
Born on January 25, 1930, and raised in Milwaukee, Shirley spent most of her life in Madison, where she graduated from the UW as a proud Delta Gamma. She married Frank A. Ross Jr., raised six children, and cared for her many grandchildren, who lovingly called her Nonny. She was a wonderful mother to her own children and was considered a second mother by many.
Shirley was always surrounded by friends, family and fun. She continued her mother Hazel’s legacy of practical jokes, once traveling by train in a nun’s habit amongst her unsuspecting friends. Years later she and Frank surprised their friends with a wading pool filled with carp in their living room. Move over Lucille Ball!
Shirley was a devoted and loyal friend. She made friendships that spanned decades in the neighborhood, in school, as a volunteer, and as a member of book, bridge, and mahjong clubs. Frank and Shirl loved traveling with friends and family around the world. She and her dear friend Jinny enjoyed many adventures, once sharing a white-knuckle camel ride highlighting a trip to Egypt. Shirl was an avid reader and enjoyed refinishing furniture and designing all of the family homes.
Though perhaps not a natural, Shirley was a good sport in adopting Frank’s outdoor lifestyle. Together they took the children on rainy and buggy camping and fishing trips, and on ski trips in sub-zero weather. In spite of inevitable mishaps, nothing could dampen Shirl’s spirits, as long as the family was together.
Her most cherished memories were summers at Crystal Lake where her mother, Hazel, bought a small cottage that bustled with Shirl and Phyl’s twelve children, sundry wet dogs, swimming, boating, and general shenanigans. Neighbors on the lake describe the Ross cottage as ringing with storytelling, games and laughter into the wee hours.
Once her kids were older, Shirley brought her boundless energy to many pursuits becoming a Volunteer Braillist, transcribing books and maps for the visually impaired. She was an Attic Angel for 34 years, continuing to help the “elderly” until she was into her eighties herself. Shirley also lent her skills to Theater Bus, Prevent Blindness Wisconsin, PEO (a mysterious philanthropic organization) and in elementary classrooms around Middleton. She took the real estate exam and briefly sold houses before quitting to return to her life of service to others.
Shirley is survived by her daughters, Debby Haines (Rusty), Ginny Ross (Gael Boyd), Gail Ross (Catie McDowell), Suzy Scudder (Mark), beloved son-in-law, Dave Ward, and treasured daughter-in-law, Bronwen Ross, as well as her 11 grandchildren, and 8 great-grandchildren.
Shirley was preceded in death by her parents, George and Hazel Spohn; her husband, Frank Ross Jr.; her sister and brother-in-law, Phyl and Bob Marschke; her son, Doug Ross; her daughter, Merry Ross; and her nephew, Jim Marschke.
A going away party will be held in Shirley’s honor on Sunday, February 9, 2020, from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m., at BLUE BAR QUILTS, 6333 University Ave., Middleton, WI 53562.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation of your choice in Shirley’s name.