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Silverdale leader Ron Ross dies
Longtime Silverdale resident and community supporter Ron Ross died Sunday following a battle with lung cancer. He was 79.
Ross was one of the largest individual landowners in Kitsap County and was known as a community developer and founder of Silverdale Realty. He was a businessman in the Silverdale area for more than 40 years and was passionate about protecting property rights.
He contributed to a number of local events and supported the community in various ways, including being the powerhouse behind Silverdale’s annual Whaling Days festival that is held each July. Along with his wife, Nadean, Ross contributed more than $1 million to begin the fundraising campaign to build the Silverdale Haselwood Family YMCA.
Together, they also often offered up their Central Valley property, Royal Valley Farm, for public events. It was at that location that the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce built its mud run course which was used last year to raise money for local charities.
The family also has ballfields at the corner of Central Valley and Paulson roads in Central Kitsap which are used for Pee Wee games. In past years, the Ross family also had a big barn dance each July that was open to anyone who wanted to attend.
Fitting of his love for the country and everything western, Ross often was known to wear his signature cowboy boots and Native American bolo tie.
Ross was diagnosed with lung cancer a few years ago, but it wasn’t until recent months that the disease slowed him down, said his daughter Ellen Ross-Cardoso.
“He always stood up for what he thought was right,” Ross-Cardoso said of her father. “He was willing to take on anything.”
Property rights issues were important to him, she said, but not just for his benefit.
“Sometimes people thought his fights for property issues were self-serving because he owned a lot of property,” she said. “But that wasn’t it. He had the resources and the time to fight these battles and he was doing it for those who didn’t or those who couldn’t.”
Ross-Cardoso said as a father things were pretty cut and dry with her dad.
“It was his way or the wrong way,” she said. “He was very generous and I never had any doubted that he loved us kids. He was thrilled with all our accomplishments and he would support us whatever we wanted to do.”
She became the administrator of the family real estate and land development business, Royal Valley LLC, named for the farm that has been in the family for 46 years.
Ross-Cardoso recalled that her father loved the outdoors.
“He spent time in Alaska in the Army in his 20s,” she said. “He loved Alaska. And he loved the Olympic Mountains. We’d camp there every summer as a family.”
She said her father loved to fish and would take his boat to Alaska every summer where friends would fly in and go fishing with him.
Ross-Cordoso said her father remained very active until just the past six months. He had been treated with chemotherapy and radiation for both lung and brain cancer.
“It never got him down at all,” she said.
Nadean Ross remembered her husband as someone who was always thinking about a good property deal.
She described a time about a month ago when her husband took a fall and they had to call 911.
“When the paramedics got here, he was trying to talk them into looking into a piece of property on Central Valley Road,” she said. “He had seen it and he thought it would be just the right place for a new Brownsville area fire station. He told them they needed to look into it.”
She said he told the paramedics to keep it’s rural character.
“He said they needed to build covered bridges across the creek but to be sure to make them high enough that the firetrucks and ambulances could fit through them.”
Silverdale supporter Tex Lewis recalled how Ross was the go-to person whenever he needed anything.
“Whenever we needed help with the (Clear Creek) trail, I’d call Ron and it would get done,” Lewis said. Lewis is a founding member of the Clear Creek Task Force.
Lewis said Ross and his son, Robert, single-handedly built an off-channel for salmon rearing and spawning (on Clear Creek) that was a 250-foot semi-circle about six-feet deep.
“We called it the fish-thingy,” Lewis said. “That was about five or six years ago and it’s still out there now in use.”
Ross and his son also helped with a needed bridge over the creek by placing 50-foot eaves.
“All I ever needed to do was just call and he was out there doing the job,” Lewis said. “And he didn’t want any acknowledgement for what he did. He was just ‘Mr. Citizen’ helping out.”
Lewis called Ross and his wife “the salt of the earth.”
“He had a good sense of humor and I found him very easy to get along with,” Lewis said. “I greatly respected him and if he was talking, you could count on it being the truth. He always knew what he was talking about.”
Kitsap County Commissioners Josh Brown credited Ross with the success of the Silverdale YMCA.
“If it hadn’t been for he and Nadean making the $1 million contribution to begin the project, it wouldn’t have happened,” Brown said. “Even though the county was invested in seeing that it happen, that gave creditability to the project. We couldn’t have pulled it off without them.”
Brown acknowledged that he and Ross were often times on opposite sides of issues. But he said he appreciated Ross and his commitment to what he believed in.
“He could argue any issue,” Brown said. “He was one of the smartest and most honest people you’ll ever come across.”
While their relationship started off “not on positive footing,” Brown said, because Ross supported his opponent when he first ran for county commissioner, “over the years we developed mutual respect and he supported me for re-election.”
Ross was involved in many local community and civic groups. He served as the second-ever president of the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce in 1975.
Ross and Nadean would have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this December. They have two daughters, Ross-Cardoso of Poulsbo and Linda Buchanan of Arizona, a son, Robert, of Bremerton, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.