We’re deeply saddened to announce the passing of MDA’s longtime chief executive, Robert Ross.
Ross, MDA president & CEO, died June 5 in Tucson, Ariz.
Ross had been with MDA since 1955, when he joined the fledgling voluntary health organization as its public information director. He was named executive director in 1962, and was designated president and chief executive officer in 2001.
On learning of Ross’ death, MDA National Chairman Jerry Lewis said, “Bob Ross was the driving force that gave MDA its energy and its tremendous level of quality. Those of us who knew him well realize that it was his vision that shaped MDA into the powerful force it has become.”
Lewis added, “He was also a dear personal friend to me and to thousands of people with neuromuscular diseases. MDA and I will miss him tremendously.”
Lois R. West, chairman of MDA’s Board of Directors, said, “Bob Ross was a remarkably dedicated leader, who developed MDA from its early days as a handful of local chapters into its status as one of the nation’s and the world’s best-known health organizations.”
MDA Chief Operating Officer Jerry Weinberg, a colleague of 49 years, said Ross was an outstanding executive and a dear friend.
“It was a great honor and privilege to work with Bob Ross in building MDA into an internationally recognized nonprofit agency,” Weinberg said. “In addition to being an unmatched leader and humanitarian, Bob was my best and closest friend.”
Virtually all of MDA’s achievements over the past five decades can be credited to Ross — the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon, its summer camp program, cutting-edge lifesaving research, a nationwide network of expert-led clinics, an extensive public information program, and too many other accomplishments to enumerate.
With an unwavering commitment to MDA’s primary mission of eradicating neuromuscular diseases, Ross pressed staff members and rallied volunteers to do their best. At the same time, he opened his compassionate heart to thousands of families he knew personally whose lives were affected by neuromuscular diseases.
Ross was MDA’s president and chief executive officer, and much more. His numerous skills created success, his vision made dreams come true, and his deeply caring heart assured that the easing of suffering was always MDA’s guiding priority.
Every family served by MDA was affected by Bob Ross’ devotion and high standards. The countless members of his MDA family will miss him profoundly. But we can be sure that his legacy of service and compassion will leave its mark for generations to come.
The MDA Robert Ross Memorial Fund has been established to receive contributions in his honor. Contributions to the fund may be sent to: MDA, 3300 E. Sunrise Drive, Tucson, AZ 85718.