2017-10-26 / Front Page

Memorial highway dedication honors Ben Barron Ross’ lifetime of service

By JANE ELLYN AARON
news editor


BEN. B. ROSS BEN. B. ROSS Humble but tough, hardworking and devoted, Ben Barron Ross was considered to be “a good, decent man” by the countless number of people he encountered throughout his lifetime. This sentiment was the focus of a ceremony honoring the legacy of the late Ross, as a stretch of Highway 47 was dedicated in his memory on Tuesday, October 17.

The signage reads “The Ben Bar­ron Ross Memorial Highway,” and now acts as a reminder of his lifetime of service to the people of Lincoln County, having served the commu­nity in many, many capacities.

In attendance of the ceremony were Ross’ nephews and niece, Wayne Ross, Rowland Ross, and Kate Ross Williams, along with several other family members. They were joined by Lincoln County and City of Lincolnton officials, repre­sentatives from the Georgia Depart­ment of Transportation, including District 2 Engineer Jimmy Smith, and by Superior Court Judge of the Toombs Judicial Circuit Britt Ham­mond, Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court Harris Hines, State Senator Lee Anderson, and State Representative Tom McCall.


The niece and nephews, (l-r) Kate Ross Williams, Rowland Ross, and Wayne Ross, of the late Ben Bar­ron Ross unveiled a Georgia DOT highway marker reading “Ben Barron Ross Memorial Highway” at a ceremony for the attorney last week. A stretch of Highway 47 – from Hardee’s to Cliatt Crossing – was named in his honor to immortalizing the lifetime of service that the former county attorney and state representative gave to the people of Lincoln County. The niece and nephews, (l-r) Kate Ross Williams, Rowland Ross, and Wayne Ross, of the late Ben Bar­ron Ross unveiled a Georgia DOT highway marker reading “Ben Barron Ross Memorial Highway” at a ceremony for the attorney last week. A stretch of Highway 47 – from Hardee’s to Cliatt Crossing – was named in his honor to immortalizing the lifetime of service that the former county attorney and state representative gave to the people of Lincoln County. “The family appreciates all that you’ve done to honor Uncle Ben,” Wayne Ross said, remarking that as Ross and his wife had no children of their own, he and his siblings were given all the more affection from their devoted uncle and aunt.

“The people of Lincoln County have honored Uncle Ben quite a bit over the years. They named him as the grand marshal for the Christmas parade – Can you imagine a lawyer being grand marshal of a Christmas parade? I mean really? That’s just kind of out of character for what we see as lawyers go, now you’re naming part of a road after him. You see roads named after WWII heroes, medal of honor winners, things like that, and some politicians of course, but it’s a real honor for it to be named after Uncle Ben,” Ross said.

He continued, “As part of his family, we’re just so thankful that y’all saw fit to do this. We’re proud to be called a part of his family. He did love this county, no doubt about it, in fact I think that was one of the characteristics about Ben, why did y’all care for him? Because he cared for you, he cared for his family, he cared for this county, he cared for the state of Georgia, he cared for the United States of America by serving in the armed forces for three or four years in WWII, he really cared for people, and he cared for me.”

Hailing from Jones County, from the town of Clinton, Ross made Lin­coln County his permanent residence in 1949 after his service in the armed forces. From then on, he and his wife Mobley Gamble Ross would live a lifetime spent serving the people of Lincoln County, and also the people of the state of Georgia. Not 10 years later, after making the pilgrimage to Lincolnton, he began his first term as a state representative, a position which Ross would hold for 28 years.

He also served as the attorney for Lincoln County for 38 years, and he likewise set up his private practice directly in the courthouse.

“He was like an adoptive father – he loved the people of this part of the world,” Chief Justice Hines commented. “He came to Lincoln County in 1949 and started prac­ticing law. Now listen to this, he practiced law from 1949 until 2008 – that’s 59 years – Mrs. [Anissa] Butler’s his good right arm, and she’ll tell you this, when he stopped practicing law, when you have a big practice it takes about four or five years to wind down, so he actively practiced law into his 80s, which is quite an accomplishment.”

Highlighting Ross’ gumption, Hines illustrated that the attorney was both committed, active, and well respected amongst his peers. Within the House of Representatives, Ross was known as someone who could get the job done – “They say he’s got clout, he’s got pop, he can deliver,” Hines said.

In his stance on education for all, Hines included, “He believed in education. Mobley Ross, my aunt, they believed in education and what it can do for people. He was the chair of the house committee, under then Governor Joe Frank Harris, when the Quality Basic Education Law was passed. That is the principal pillar of how education in grammar school, in high school, is funded in the state of Georgia to this very day. It has made us such a wonderful state, because we educated the popu­lous, he did that. It’s extraordinarily important.”

Locally, Ross was likewise in­strumental in paving the way for a new library in Lincoln County, was thoroughly dedicated to the Lincoln County Historical Society, and supported the organization by actively seeking funding and means of preservation.

“I’m very grateful to Mr. Ross and to Mrs. Anissa Butler for taking me in when I came to work here back in 1995. I owe them a great deal in helping me become the lawyer that I am. They spent just countless amounts of time helping me, teach­ing me,” Judge Hammond added. “For Mr. Ross there are many things I could say, but the thing that strikes me though is his deep abiding love for Lincoln County, and how he lived out that love through his service.”

Hammond made note of the many buildings that have Ross’ name em­blazoned on them, and described a man that not only worked in general law, but put in a continuous stream of efforts elsewhere, from waterlines and roads, to education and onward, “just the hours and hours he spent working to help Lincoln County realize his potential – it was an act of love.

“He also taught me kindness, he was a true southern gentleman, it’s something we don’t always have in our profession,” Hammond said, adding that Ross shaped his life by teaching him the virtues of patience, and always being prepared. “He exhibited that kind of kindness and professionalism in all that he did, no matter which side of the fence he came down on.

“The last thing he taught me was sometimes you have to fight, and I beg your apology and forgiveness now, but he said ‘when you’ve got to fight, you’ve got to fight like hell,’ and he meant it. Mr. Ross had a lasting impact on my life, and I will always cherish him,” Ham­mond said.

While many spoke on behalf of Ross, giving their own testaments to his longevity of servitude, the bottom line was that he was a man of character, and that he loved Lin­coln County, and that love has had a lasting effect on an immeasurable number of people.

As Sheriff Paul Reviere attested, “I want to thank the Ross family for sharing Mr. Ben and Mrs. Mobley both. I think they each had a sig­nificant impact on this community. They had an impact on so many of us as we grew up. Pedaling bicycles from our yard over to their yard to find out what Mrs. Gamble had cooked, those kinds of things, they shape your personality, and make a difference in your life. I appreciate so much the fact that Jones County shared their people with us and they became Lincoln County people, and we trust that you’ll feel that same way as you’re here with us.”

As his nephew pointed out, in considering the legacy that his uncle left behind to the Lincolnton Com­munity, the signage erected in his memory now stands for the things the attorney stood for throughout his life.

“Whoever goes down this road and sees the name Ben Barron Ross, they can think, ‘you know, if I fol­low this road, where can it take me? How far will it take me?’ There’s no telling how far the road will you take you if you follow his examples,” Ross said.

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