March 10, 1994
Vol. 13, No. 13

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    Braxton Ross, Classics

    W. Braxton Ross Jr., Associate Professor and Chairman of Classical Languages & Literatures, died of heart-related problems on Thursday, March 3, at the Hilltop Nursing Sanatorium in Lake Bluff, Ill. He was 62.

    "Besides being an expert in the books and writing of the Latin Middle Ages and early Italian Renaissance, Braxton was a dedicated teacher and a marvelously gentle but effective administrator," said Robert Kaster, Professor in Classical Languages & Literatures. "He was one of the people who selflessly make the University run smoothly from day to day."

    Ross published numerous articles, book contributions and reviews as part of his academic focus on Latin paleography -- the deciphering, identifying and scholarly interpretation of ancient written documents and modes of writing.

    At the time of his death, he had virtually completed the draft of a 20-year project, an edition of the "De viris illustribus" ("On Famous Men") written by Italian humanist Giovanni Colonna in the 1330s. The work is an 800-page compilation of biographies of classical and Christian authors.

    "Ross had discovered Colonna's own manuscript of the work -- with its errors, corrections, false starts and inconsistencies -- which raised intriguing questions of editorial method, " Kaster said. Ross' draft is expected to be completed by colleagues and published.

    Ross was born in Denver, Colo. He received his B.A. in American history and literature from Williams College in 1953. He joined the U.S. Army Counterintelligence Corps in 1953, serving in Japan from 1954 to 1956. He received a Certificat du Seminaire du francais moderne from the University of Geneva, Switzerland, in 1957. He received his M.A.T. in history from Harvard in 1960 and his Ph.D. in medieval history from the University of Colorado in 1964.

    Ross joined the Chicago faculty as Assistant Professor in History in 1968 and was named Associate Professor in Classical Languages & Literatures in 1974. He served as Librarian for Paleographic Collections from 1974 to 1978 and as Master of the Humanities Collegiate Division and Associate Dean of the Humanities Division and the College from 1978 to 1982. He was named Chairman of Classical Languages & Literatures in 1989. In 1988, he and his wife, Diane Gilmore Ross, a teacher of English as a Second Language at Crossroads International Student Center, were named Masters of the Commuter Students Association. In that role they helped provide activities and events for students commuting to the University from the Chicago area. Ross also was the adviser for the Christian Science Organization on campus.

    In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, John, of Chicago; and a daughter, Ann Ross Yetter, of Madison, Wisc.

    A University memorial service is being planned for the spring quarter.