Terry Len Ross
April 30, 1948 – January 1, 2019
Terry Ross, who was editor of the Yuma Sun for almost 30 years, died Tuesday morning in Copperas Creek, Texas, following a short illness. He was 70 years old.
He’s being remembered as a dedicated journalist and generous man, who treated all sides of an issue fairly and kept a hopeful eye toward the future.
He grew up in Yuma and spent most of his 42-year career at the Sun. His daughter, Kimberly Ross of Texas, said he was dedicated to her own potential, as well as that of his hometown, his employees and his industry.
“He was just, he was a wonderful man,” she said. “He wasn’t just encouraging of me, he was encouraging of the people under him and was able to mentor them, to see them succeed. He liked that.”
John Vaughn, Yuma Sun features editor and editor of the Sun’s Bajo El Sol Spanish-language edition, said he was also grateful for the advice and backing he got from his longtime boss.
“Terry hired me more than 35 years ago, and he was a very valuable mentor to me, first while I was a reporter, but even more so when I made the transition to becoming an editor,” he said.
“He was always so supportive. We will all miss him,” he added.
Terry Ross was born in Oklahoma in 1948, and made his first appearance in print as a newborn with his twin Larry, one of four pairs of twin boys born at the same hospital in the same week.
Both graduated from Yuma High School and went on to study journalism at Arizona State University, becoming the first in their family to graduate in 1970. Terry Ross went to the Maui News in Hawaii before being hired by the Yuma Daily Sun in 1975 as a re-
porter/photographer, and then as news editor.
He left for another news editor job in Greeley, Colo. in 1981, but came back to Yuma for good the following year, and was named its editor the year after that. He relocated to Texas a few weeks before he died.
Upon his retirement, Ross reflected on many of the “big stories” he’d covered, including the Tison Gang murders in 1978 and the death of 9-year-old Jennifer Wilson 10 years later, but said the day-to-day work was perhaps the most significant.
“I always thought the most important thing was community journalism, telling the ordinary stories perhaps other agencies wouldn’t have any interest in and carrying on the traditions of the community. We’re not only reporters but also protectors and boosters in the community,” he said.
Additionally, as editor, Ross valued his role in helping to set a community agenda — “This is what we think is important and what we need to do.”
Yuma City Councilmember Mike Shelton knew Ross during and after his tenure as editor, having worked in the city administrator’s office throughout the 1990s and set up many editorial board meetings and other interactions when it came time to present the city’s side of an issue, in detail.
“We really appreciated him for that. There were a number of times I set things in motion for (former city administrator) Joyce Wilson to make a presentation on one thing or another in front of Terry’s people, and he definitely held court.
“He wasn’t anybody’s yes-man, it was always ‘OK, give it the best shot, we’ll tell you what we think,’ and that’s what he did” in his opinion pieces, Shelton said.
He added, “I found he was always fair, always had the larger public interest at heart, he was always honest, and I enjoyed personally working with him.”
Current and former Yuma Sun staff members from multiple departments said Ross was respected for his professionalism and revered for his eagerness to see them, and the newspaper as a whole, succeed. Words like “kind” and “mentor” came up repeatedly.
Editor Roxanne Molenar, who worked under Ross for 10 years before becoming his successor, said, “Terry was a terrific mentor to me, and he was also an incredible friend. He had a smart, subtle sense of humor, and often made me laugh when I least expected it.
“I’ve been fortunate to work with a few people who have been like family to me, and Terry was one of those people. I will miss him,” she said.
Former publisher Julie Moreno, now publisher of the Examiner in Independence, Mo., led the Sun from 2000-08 and also recalled his very dry sense of humor, as well as his steady leadership of the newsroom.
“He was a quiet, unassuming man, he knew his stuff, and I never worried about what was happening in the newsroom under his leadership,” she said. “A very kind man, (he) recognized talent, and let it flourish,” she said.
Joyce Lobeck, a Yuma Sun reporter and editor for 31 years and now a freelance writer, said Ross “had a profound impact on me, and I’ve always been grateful to him for giving me a chance to be the journalist I had dreamed of being.”
Through the years she covered agriculture, government and business, writing the “Comings and Goings” column for many years.
“This is all because of Terry,” said Lobeck. “I’m so thankful for the opportunities he gave me. I’m sorry to hear of his passing, but I’ll always have fond memories of him.”
Maria Chavoya, founding editor of Bajo El Sol, said Ross was “a good friend and a good boss.” She edited the paper from 1991-2009, and said he was a paternal figure for her throughout that time.
“Even though we were almost the same age, you know he always kind of had his wings over me, making sure I did the right thing. That if I didn’t know how to do something he helped me learn, without making me feel uncomfortable,” she said.
Chavoya is now Arizona Complete Health’s regional manager for community affairs in Yuma and a member of the Arizona Western College governing board.
Ross was always eager to try new ideas for expanding the paper’s reach into the community, said Lori Stofft, former marketing manager and current director of advancement at AWC.
“We started a battle of the bands, we started a dance competition, we started a singing competition, and we wanted to have an editorial element to all of that so it wasn’t just entertainment, it was valuable and interesting news content,” she said.
“Not hard news, but news about local Yumans performing, and he was totally game, he was really supportive of all of that. We did those contests for years.”
His daughter, Kimberly, noted he was at the forefront of every technical innovation for newspapers, including the launch of one of the first websites in the 1990s.
“He was definitely pushing to have the Sun be an early adopter of newspapers on the internet. He definitely looked forward, in all aspects of the industry, and the community, and wanted to see things improve,” she said.
Ross continued to be an optimist about the industry’s future, years after the seismic changes brought about by the internet had put many papers in peril or out of business.
In his final column as an editor in December 2012, he wrote, “Only when people are no longer interested in what is happening around them and keeping informed about it will newspapers truly be dinosaurs. And if that happens, our society will be in a lot more trouble than the loss of newspapers.
“Far from being the end of days for newspapers, I see this period as an exciting one for the industry. Major changes and innovations are taking place, and as always some are resisting those changes. But inevitably I think newspapers will adjust — as they have throughout my career — and be better for it.”
His survivors include his daughter and three brothers, including his twin Larry Ross. Funeral arrangements are pending.
Johnson Mortuary & Desert Lawn Memorial Park
1415 S 1st Ave
Terry Len Ross
have a memory or condolence to add?ADD A MEMORY