Ross remembered for her love of family, work
BRISTOL - After a private funeral, about 200 hundreds people from school districts around the state gathered for a public ceremony to pay tribute to Marie Ross, the former Newfound Area School District superintendent, who died Jan. 12 from a brain tumor.
Family and friends kept the public ceremony light, as Ross, who was 58, had asked of them just weeks ago as she helped plan the event, the family said.
"Mother said she wanted there to be lots of hugs and lots and lots of food at the remembrance ceremony," said daughter Erin Watson.
"At one of our last dinners, when mother was still able to speak and think well, she said she didn't think she could find the words for us," said daughter Marina MacDonald at the podium. "Then she just started saying, 'I love you, I love you.'
"I think she found the words," MacDonald said, smiling.
When Ross learned several weeks ago that her condition was terminal, her family offered her one special wish.
"We thought she'd want a trip to the Caribbean or something," MacDonald said. "She said she wanted to buy three special pianos for her grandchildren. She said she wanted to watch them play from heaven."
Family members said there was grief expressed in the private ceremony prior to the public event, and the public event was meant to be light. But the loss was still fresh the minds of friends and family members.
As a pianist played Ross' choice of music for the ceremony, Josh Groban's "You Are Loved," Ross' husband, Sherman Ross, reached out one hand to the air as if in prayer, and Ross' granddaughter, 7-year-old Kaylee Corman, crawled into MacDonald's arms, as other family members wept.
Ross' son, Joshua Corman, expressed some of the loss and confusion of his mother's sudden passing. His mother became ill on Sept. 29 with what was described as a stroke and a "brain bleed," but her family believed her to be recovering. In November, they learned she had terminal cancer.
"Being around school and as a father, I was already heart-sick by what happened in Newtown," he said, referring to the school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last month.
"Between Newtown and my mother's cancer . it seems like there's more evil out there than we knew."
Colleague after colleague spoke of Ross' strong dedication to her students.
"Not many people can say they had 1,500 students and she knows all of them," said Newfound High School Assistant Principal Paul Hoiriis.
Her sense of love for each student was always evident, said Newfound administrator Eric Chase. Once, he said, he had mistakenly referred to Ross as "mother."
"She said, 'How old do you think I am?' But the feeling never left me, that's how many of us felt about her."
Several speakers made mention of her car's license plate, which read "Be Kind."
"That phrase preceded her by seven feet everywhere she went," Chase said. "For Marie, 'Be Kind' was core, not artifice."
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