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1942 John E. Ross 2023

John E. Ross

June 20, 1942 — April 26, 2023



John E. Ross died peacefully on April 26, 2023, at St. Mary’s Hospital.  He struggled with cancer but was brave and resolute to the end.   After the diagnosis he enjoyed 18 months of extra time with his family and friends.  Special thanks to his Oncologist Dr. Jacqueline Mullvain.  


            John worked in the field of Juvenile Corrections in the State of Wisconsin from 1968 until his retirement in 2000.  He was a Master’s degree social worker who began his career providing direct services to delinquent youth at Ethan Allen School near Wales and in the Milwaukee community.  From there he went to Lincoln Hills School in Northern Wisconsin and then to Central Administration in Madison.  He was responsible for helping to build a model juvenile correctional system throughout the state, balancing the need for community safety with a strong rehabilitative emphasis.  John will be remembered for his practical intelligence, his deep sense of caring for troubled youth, his fairness, and his wonderful ability to create effective programs and to manage them well.


            In his personal life, it was also all or nothing when John decided on a goal.  That passion started with training a dog for field trials, moved on to photography, becoming a pilot and a sailor, and finally riding and jumping fences with his horse Tyler.  He loved that horse and spent hours at the barn.  


            John met his wife Donna (Thronson) when they were students at UW Madison and they were married at St. Paul’s on campus.  Their two sons Brian and David completed their happy family. The family grew when Brian married Sarah Kingsley and grandchildren Andrew and Erin followed.  John dearly loved his grandchildren and encouraged them in their endeavors.  Pets brought joy to everyone in the family.  Queen of Peace Community met an important part of John and Donna’s spiritual needs.  Sunday discussions and music resulted in a deep connection to lifelong friends.


            John and Donna enjoyed traveling and took many trips with friends.  The highlights for them were a trip to Africa and a horseback riding adventure in Sardinia which ignited his passion for horses.  


            Since John and Donna moved to a condo in 2000, John has served on the board of directors.  He loved living on the lake and took great pride in making this a home for them and the other residents who became dear friends.  


            John was born June 20, 1942, to Edward and Dorothy (Sobota) Ross.  Siblings are brothers Tim (Huong), Jeff (Luanne), Tom, sister Mary Sue, and sister-in-law Ruth.  Parents and an infant sister preceded him in death. He was an uncle to Karyl, Lisa, Steve, Linda, Susie, Cindy, Tim, and Kevin.  His large extended family was very important to him.


            Visitation will be at Cress Funeral Home, 6021 University Avenue, Madison, WI, on Tuesday, May 2, from 10:00-11:30, memorial service at 11:30, with lunch following.  


For those unable to attend John's Memorial Service in person, it will be available by registering at the link below:


Please share your memories at

Cress Center

6021 University Ave. Madison

(608) 238-8406




To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of John E. Ross, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Tuesday, May 2, 2023

10:00 - 11:30 am (Central time)

Cress Funeral & Cremation Service - Madison - Far West

6021 University Ave, Madison, WI 53705

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Memorial Service

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

11:30am - 12:15 pm (Central time)

Cress Funeral & Cremation Service - Madison - Far West

6021 University Ave, Madison, WI 53705

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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