Born 1930 in the heart of the depression, Joe Ross was the sixth of seven children. His father died when he was three years old, leaving his mother with seven children, no insurance, and no means of support. The sole source of income came from his mother taking washing and ironing jobs for white families. The first of the family to graduate from high school, Joe was valedictorian of his senior class. He enlisted into a segregated US Army three days after graduation.
Joe submitted numerous applications to attend military schools. He was denied these opportunities when a company commander said black soldiers didnt have the mental capacity to learn technical skills. After integration of the armed forces he re-applied for those technical schools and was accepted. The crowning moment came when Joe became an instructor at the United States Military Academy at West Point NY.
He served honorably in the military with a 21-year career. Duty assignments included many stateside posts and overseas duties in Korea, Vietnam, Germany, Hawaii, and the Dominican Republic. His many military medals and awards include: Army Commendation Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, and American Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation and the Purple Heart for a combat wound during the Korean War.
After retirement, Joe was employed as Chief Cartographer for E.S. Preston Associates Inc. Columbus, Ohio. After one year, he became a member of the firms board of directors. Three years later, he was recruited and employed by the Keuffel and Esser Engineering Manufacturing Company. He held positions as Mapping Sales Engineer and Micrographics Systems Specialist for fourteen years and retired again in 1985.
Joe was constantly involved in community and local civic activities. He served as a School Board of Education Vice President. In addition Joe was a Red Cross First Aid Instructor, Volunteer Emergency Rescue Squad member, American Legion Baseball Coach, Little League Football Coach, and Scoutmaster for Boy Scouts of America.
A father of seven children, Joe has been married to his wife Verlean for over fifty years.
A portion of his memoirs from his Korean War experiences is on record at the Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.