David Ross

[Age 54] He taught French and Spanish in Baltimore City and county schools for more than 20 years and loved to travel.

"The kids loved David, and there were never any discipline problems in his classes," said his principal.

August 24, 2007|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,sun reporter

David Ross, a popular foreign-language teacher who taught in city and county schools for more than two decades, died Saturday of a heart attack at his Northwest Baltimore home. He was 54.

Mr. Ross was born in Baltimore and raised in Cherry Hill. He was a 1971 honors graduate of City College and earned a bachelor's degree in French with a minor in Spanish from Morgan State University in 1975.

While a student at Morgan, Mr. Ross made the dean's list every semester of his college career.

In 1975, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study for a year at the University of Lyon in France, where he also taught high school English to students at the Technical High School of Metallurgical Industries.

Mr. Ross taught French and Spanish to junior high school students from 1978 to 1981, when he joined the Peace Corps. He was sent to Bukavu, Zaire, where he taught English to high school students.

He returned to Baltimore in 1984 and resumed his teaching career at Southwestern Senior High School, where he taught French and Spanish.

Mr. Ross, who was also fluent in Italian, Portuguese, Lingala and Swahili, joined the faculty of Milford Mill Academy in Pikesville, where he taught for a year until retiring in 2006.

Mr. Ross, who favored African garb, often wore colorful dashikis to class.

"He was a real down-to-earth teacher, and I didn't really start learning French until I got to his class," said Alicia D. Stern, who studied with Mr. Ross at Southwestern High School in 2002.

"He was a quiet guy but very energetic when it came to teaching. He'd use French movies and songs. He made it fun," Ms. Stern said. "He was so popular. Everyone wanted to take French or Spanish from Mr. Ross."

Ms. Stern described him as "easy-going," and the type of teacher students went to for advice because he "listened."

Nathaniel J. Gibson II had been principal of Southwestern and Milford Mill Academy during Mr. Ross' tenure at those schools.

"He was an incredibly dedicated teacher who cared about the kids. Southwestern had some rough kids, and we were able to turn it around and he was an integral part of that effort," said Mr. Gibson.

"Even though he was only here for a year at Milford Mill Academy, he did an outstanding job here. The kids loved David, and there were never any discipline problems in his classes," Mr. Gibson said.

He added: "Whatever challenges arose in those schools, he always stepped up to meet them."

In his private life, Mr. Ross was somewhat retiring, even though he enjoyed playing the piano and listening to Motown music, especially the music of Diana Ross.

In his youth, he had been an aerobics instructor and an African dancer in Washington, family members said.

"His main hobby was traveling. He traveled all over the world," said a niece, Toni Taylor of Baltimore.

He was an avid reader and enjoyed attending the theater, symphony and opera.

Mr. Ross was a Red Cross blood donor and gave yearly, family members said.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. today at the William C. Brown Funeral Home, 1206 W. North Ave.

Also surviving are his mother, Helen Ashe of Baltimore; five brothers, William Dempsey, Ulysses Ashe, Dana Ashe, Kevin Ashe Sr. and David Ross, all of Baltimore; and seven sisters, Michelle Ashe, Tanya Ashe, Lenore Ashe, Sherry Ashe, Marlene Ross, Gwyn Ross and Tracy Ross, all of Baltimore.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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