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Stephen A. Ross

Stephen Ashcroft Ross passed away at home, surrounded by his family on Tuesday, August 10, 2021, following a difficult but valiant four-year battle with cancer. Though this disease ultimately took his life, we find comfort knowing that he now rests peacefully, without pain. Steve is survived by his father, S. Richard Ross, his wife of 33 years Jill W. Ross, and their five beloved children: Jason P. Ross, Brian A. Ross (Rachel), Allison A. Ross, Justin A. Ross, and S. Connor Ross. His most-prized treasures were his relationships with Jill and his children. He was a patient and supportive brother to his sister Eliza Larsen (Darrin) and brother Andy (Catharine). We take solace knowing that he is now reunited with many loved ones on the other side of the veil, including his mother, Kay A. Ross and father-in-law, Roger B. Wright.

Steve was born on July 23, 1965 to Richard and Kay Ross in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Even as a child he showed an early love for music and could sing dozens of songs from memory. Childhood for Steve looked like games of kickball with friends, musical theater performances, and occasional hijinks involving (harmless) explosives. As a teenager, his pastimes included summer jobs plastering pools, competing in tennis and volleyball, rooting for the Phillies, and playing electric bass along to his favorite records by bands like Rush, Yes, and Pink Floyd.

Steve attended Brigham Young University, majoring in economics. He faithfully served as a missionary in the Canada Montréal Mission, where he deepened his testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and his life-long love of the French language. After returning from Canada to BYU, Steve met Jill Wright and they were sealed for time and all eternity in the Idaho Falls, Idaho temple on August 19, 1988. After completing their degrees at BYU, the couple relocated to the Philadelphia area, a place with which Steve deeply identified.

Steve’s thirty-year career in the pharmaceutical industry brought him many rewarding experiences and professional relationships around the globe. After earning an MBA from the Wharton School of Business in 1993, Steve was hired by SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals into their Management Development program where he gained experiences in finance, market research and product management. Serving as a marketer and leader within the oncology business unit of what became GlaxoSmithKline would accelerate his career and lead to international experiences in senior management for the company in the UK and EU. During this influential time, the Ross family felt embraced by the people and cultures of Ireland and England, and they still prize the many friendships formed while living in the Bray Branch (County Wicklow, Ireland) and High Wycombe Ward (London, England). Returning to the U.S. later in his career, Steve filled key professional roles at the Cytogen corporation, Ikaria, and MNG Health. Over the years, Steve was recognized as a creative, savvy business leader who maintained his sense of integrity while fostering deep loyalty amongst those with whom he worked. No matter how your path crossed his, you were his friend—he was himself wherever he was. 

As a life-long member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Steve had many church responsibilities. He served as bishop and stake president, teaching principles of unity, inclusion, and reverent devotion to God. Perhaps his favorite callings were choir director and the many opportunities he had to work with the youth of the church. He loved to serve with Jill, with whom he organized youth conferences, planned young women camps, and led the ushering committee for the Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple open house, an experience he deeply cherished. No matter the scope of the assignment, Steve led by ministering to the individual. He had a genuine and unique skill for listening, counseling, and using his wry sense of humor to lighten others’ burdens. Steve considered it a great privilege to work alongside so many to establish Zion in the communities that he loved. 

Steve was most satisfied when he could use his creativity to lift others. Music was an ever-present part of Steve’s life. He filled his days listening to and performing music with friends and family, no matter their level of skill or experience. Some of his favorite musical traditions included participating in musical theater productions, leading and performing in church vocal and handbell choirs, arranging performances of Handel’s Messiah oratorio, and playing trombone with an annual group of instrumental carolers known simply as “the Christmas Band.” Steve brought people together through music, and it became one of the most powerful ways that he shared his testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Steve loved to cook for others, hosting many individuals and families new to the area or in need of a home for a holiday. He appreciated international ingredients and cuisines, and enjoyed making and eating dishes such as Greek lamb patties, Burmese “jungle chicken,” and French cheese (the stinkier, the better). In addition to cooking, Steve was a gifted photographer, a talent that he developed through many family photo shoots and editing sessions at the computer. He also became skilled at woodworking and glassblowing, creative outlets that produced beautiful gifts treasured by their recipients. 

Steve’s adventurous spirit took him all around the world, and he relished opportunities to travel with his family. He loved learning about different cultures and places, and during his explorations he always had a camera in hand. Notable journeys include trips to most of Europe and many of the Caribbean islands, ski trips to Park City, business and family adventures in Japan, and photo expeditions to Africa and the Canadian Rockies. Tradition brought Steve to Ocean City, Maryland throughout his life, a tradition which he has passed along to his children. Every year the family gathered to enjoy the salty air and sweet treats, flex their skee-ball skills, catch crabs, and help Steve build his epic sand castles. He was able to make this trip with his family just the week before his passing, despite doctors’ expectations that he would be unable to do so. 

Those who knew him remember Steve’s sharp wit and tender heart—he easily shed tears of joy and sorrow, tears that we now share. He showed us that, in the words of the musical Les Misérables, “to love another person is to see the face of God.” 

Above all, Steve loved his wife Jill. They shared a life together filled with love, laughter, and devotion. 33 years of earthly marriage is Act I of what we are assured will be an eagerly anticipated eternal love story.

 Relatives and friends are invited to greet the family on Friday, August 20, 2021 between 7:00 and 9:00 PM and on Saturday, August 21, 2021 between 9:30 and 10:30 AM, followed by a funeral service at 11:00 AM, to be held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1682 Wood St., Philadelphia, PA 19025. His interment will follow in Newtown Cemetery, Newtown, PA.

All guests are respectfully required to wear face masks while visiting with Steve’s family and attending his services. His family appreciates your cooperation in helping to keep everyone safe. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Steve’s name to CancerCare (https://www.cancercare.org/donate-now).

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Service/Memorial Information
  • Evening Visitation

    Friday, August 20th, 2021
    7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints - Philadelphia
    1682 Wood Street
    Philadelphia, PA 19025

  • Morning Visitation

    Saturday, August 21st, 2021
    9:30 AM - 10:30 AM

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints - Philadelphia
    1682 Wood Street
    Philadelphia, PA 19025

  • Funeral Service

    Saturday, August 21st, 2021
    11:00 AM

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints - Philadelphia
    1682 Wood Street
    Philadelphia, PA 19025

  • Interment

    Saturday, August 21st, 2021

    Newtown Cemetery
    625 East Washington Ave
    Newtown, PA 18940

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