Dr. Joseph C. Ross

June 16, 1927June 22, 2013
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ROSS, Joseph Comer, MD, passed away in Nashville on June 22, 2013 after a lengthy illness.  Born in Tompkinsville, KY, June 16, 1927.  Preceded in death by his parents, Joe and Annie Ross, and sister Martha Bailey; survived by his beloved wife of 61 years, Isabelle Nevins Ross; siblings Ola Jones and Jeff Pinckley Ross; children Laura (David) Abney, Sharon (David) Shaub, Jennifer (Randy) Goodman, Mary (Matt) Hearn, and Jeff Ross; 12 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren.  An Army veteran of WW II, Dr. Ross graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1950 and earned his MD at Vanderbilt Medical School in 1954. After completing a residency at Duke Medical School, he began a distinguished career in academic medicine at Indiana University (1958-1970) where, continuing the research he began at Duke, he helped establish the connection between smoking and lung cancer. From 1970-1980 he served the Medical University of South Carolina as Medical Director and Chair of the Department of Medicine. While at MUSC, Dr. Ross earned national recognition for his expertise in pulmonary medicine and was elected President of the American College of Chest Physicians in 1978. Dr. Ross finished his professional career as Associate Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs at his alma mater, Vanderbilt University Medical Center (1982-1999). In addition to directing the operations of the hospital and its clinics, he served as VUMC’s media spokesperson, led the effort to upgrade its Emergency Medicine department, and helped bring “Life Flight” to VUMC. He also never forgot that patients are people; many Nashvillians remember the comforting image of Dr. Ross in his white coat, visiting their hospital rooms with genuine compassion and gracious advice. Above all, Dr. Ross valued faith and family. A life-long member of the Church of Christ, he served as an elder, teacher and song leader for many churches, including the Brentwood Hills congregation in Nashville; participated in several international missions; and volunteered for organizations such as The Ronald McDonald House and Healing Hands International. He was unwaveringly devoted to all the members of his immediate and extended families, supporting each of them lovingly and faithfully. While they may fondly recall his love of UK and Vandy athletics, his rose bushes, and his peanut brittle, they will remember him most of all for showing them how to live an honorable life. He touched many lives and will be deeply missed. The family wishes to thank especially Ericka Clendening and Shericke Groves for their loving care of Dr. Ross in his final months. Visitation will take place Monday, June 24, from four to eight p.m., and Tuesday, June 25, ten to eleven a.m. at the Brentwood Hills Church of Christ on Franklin Rd. Funeral services will be held there Tuesday, June 25, at eleven a.m. A private burial service will follow. Contributions in honor of Dr. Ross may be made to Healing Hands International ( or Ronald McDonald House Charities Nashville (  


  • Visitation Monday, June 24, 2013
  • Funeral Service Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Dr. Joseph C. Ross

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Gabriele Wood

July 26, 2013

Dr. Ross was one of the best people I worked for in my life. I loved looking at the photos in the gallery. They are all so special.

Chris Crosby

July 3, 2013

Praying for his soul as he enters eternal life into the arms of our almighty Father. Peace, love, grace and blessings to family and friends.

Kim Hood

June 24, 2013

Thinking and praying for your family at this time. Dr. Ross was always the epitome of a Christian gentleman.

Kimberly Thompson Hood

June 24, 2013

My sympathy especially to Ola Ann and Jeff Pinckley. Many fond memories of growing up in Tompkinsville KY. Martha Bell was a special friend. I now live in Chattanooga TN.
Pansy [Page] Allison

Diana Gilfilen

June 24, 2013

Praying for you all in the loss of your father

June 23, 2013

Love to all the family,
Mary Nelle