Tom Ross, 64, of Granite Falls, died Friday, May 10, 2013 at Abbott Northwestern Hospital. Funeral services were held Friday, May 17, at Granite Falls Lutheran Church. Burial was held at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. Arrangements were with the Wing-Bain Funeral Home of Granite Falls.
Tommie Vincent Ross was born November 25, 1948, the first son born to Rufus Vanderbilt and Verna (Cavender) Ross in Granite Falls. He attended school in Granite Falls and Bemidji.
Tom joined the United States Marine Corps in 1968 as a field radio operator with the 5th MEB, 1st Battalion, 12th Marines in Vietnam. He was honorably discharged in 1970. Following service he attended the University of Minnesota and became a highly regarded poet at various venues in the Twin Cities.
There have been numerous careers over the years primarily in service to his Dakota community, the Pejihutazizi Oyate.
He was an Upper Sioux Board member for 14 years, the lifetime firekeeper for Ikce Wicas’a ta Omniceye of the Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota Peoples, and a cultural resource specialist for various state agencies.
Most recently he was a primary force behind the award winning project “Why Treaties Matter”, a joint project with the Minnesota Humanities Commission, the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, and the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian.
Further, he worked at the Jeffers Petroglyph Site, interpreting, discussing, identifying and being genuinely thrilled at the new discoveries unfolding there.
He also served on various boards and commissions, including the executive Board of Turnabout and serving as a delegate to the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous People’s Rights.
He represented the people in Geneva, India, Greenland, Peru, Mexico and Panama. His advice was sought from legislators, healers, boat captains and the folks next door.
He is survived by his wife of 20 years, Maureen Aakre Ross, his sons Gabriel Thomas and Bradley Alexander Ross, his daughter Kristin Ann, the beat of his heart, grandson Phoenix Thunder Ross, of Granite Falls, step-son Dana Ross of Denver, Colo. and the mother of his children, Marti Wagner Ross of Brownton.
In addition, he is going to be greatly missed by Auntie Carrie Schommer, god-children Nick and Nicole Schommer of Wood Lake, special daughter Karen Shodean of Albuquerque and special son Brandon Refsland and Colton Dakota of Willmar. His surviving siblings include Diana Cavender of Apple Valley, Marlys Fluto, Candace (Chuck) Hamilton, Richard, Dallas (Nancy), Elroy (Jill), James (Nikki) of Granite Falls Joey (Kristie) Ross of Apple Valley.
He will be sadly missed by many nieces and nephews, colleagues, fellow adventurers and friends near and far.