Obituary: Wanda “Maxine” Ross

Faithful Christian, cherished mother, longtime CUSD employee

Wanda “Maxine” (Skaggs) Ross, 87, died April 9 at A Touch of Excellence care home in Peoria, Arizona.

Maxine was born June 13, 1932 in Potosi, Missouri. She was the eighth and final child of Thomp and Annie (Coffman) Skaggs. Her siblings called her “Mac,” and she was duly doted upon by each of them.

She was the apple of her daddy’s eye and unfortunately lost her mother when she was only six years old. Her sister Lucille then took on the role of mother.

From all accounts, even from “Mac” herself, she grew up quickly and was on her own at a very tender age. She began working in a drug store when she was just 13, and married for the first time at the young age of 16.

She worked as a store clerk and a shoe model and then moved on to work as a comptometer operator (the first commercially successful key-driven mechanical calculator), and eventually as a secretary at Midas Mufflers in Chicago.

Midas is where she met the love of her life, Norman John Ross. “What a great man Norm turned out to be too!” her family shared. “Maxine came along with three children and he wasn’t deterred in the slightest.”

The couple married in Chicago in February 1965. They were able to purchase their first home in Hickory Hills, Illinois, where three years later they welcomed a daughter, and, two years after that a son.

Ms. Ross’s focus on her children continued as she stayed home to ensure that everyone was well fed, at school on time and loved always. As money grew tight with the addition of her two youngest children, she worked as a banquet hostess at the Martinique in Chicago, leaving for work after Mr. Ross arrived home. Though she worked late into the evening, she was still up and ready to get the kids off to school the next morning.

The family eventually moved to a new home in Palos Hills, Illinois, but not long after this move Mr. Ross was offered employment in California.

They settled in Claremont in 1977.

Claremont was just the right place for the Rosses to continue raising their family. They became members of Claremont Presbyterian Church, where Mr. Ross served as a deacon. Intent on focusing on her family, Ms. Ross found work with Claremont Unified School District so she would have the same schedule as her school-aged children. She eventually saw her grandchildren go through the district as well.

She worked for CUSD until 1997, when she retired from the position of food services manager for El Roble Intermediate School.

Her beloved husband Norm died in 1997. From then, she continued to focus on what she felt was God’s mission for her, which was to ensure her children knew the value of family. 

She was a dedicated fan of everything her family did, and supported each of them through good and tough times, making sure they knew she was always there for them, whether for a boost in confidence, a ride to a friend’s house, a home cooked meal or simply an ear for listening or a shoulder on which to cry. 

“Maxine did all of this with the love and faith of Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom Maxine gave her life as a little girl and to whom she has now followed home,” her family shared. 

She is survived by her children Karen Kerns of Glendale, Arizona; Deborah Lessall of Glendale, Arizona; Ken Ross of Upland; Tracy Doebler of Upland; and John Ross of Santa Barbara; grandchildren Kimberly (Ross) Chaffee, Matthew Ross, Kristin (Kerns) Taylor, Steven Kerns, Jeffrey Doebler, Jacen Doebler and Amber Ross; and great-grandchildren Kalena Taylor, Maleah Taylor, Adelaide Kerns and Rylee Chaffee. 

Ms. Ross was preceded in death by her siblings from Missouri and Illinois, Ernest Franklin Skaggs, Berniece Mildred (Skaggs) Burt, Helen Skaggs, Lucille Della (Skaggs) Buckhannon, Steven Eugene Skaggs, MaryBelle (Skaggs) Wilson, Alvatine (Skaggs) York and her husband, Norman John Ross.

She will be buried alongside Mr. Ross at Riverside National Cemetery. A celebration of life will take place sometime later this year due to our current national health situation. 

“The family would like to especially thank Ana Westwood and her staff, Denise, Joan and Althea, from A Touch of Excellence care home in Peoria, Arizona for their unceasing compassion and tenderness in portraying all the love of our Savior to each and every one of their residents,” they said, adding, “as well as Teryn Lies and Tony Maldonado from Phoenician Hospice for their commitment of care and nurturing.”

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations in honor of Ms. Ross be made to St. Jude Children’s Hospital at, or by check to St. Jude Children’s Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105; or to Samaritan’s Purse at, or by check to PO Box 3000, Boone, NC 28607.


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