Lester Dale Ross’s life ended on October 28, 2012, while in hospice care at the VA Medical Center. He was born on July 13, 1933 at Sioux Valley Hospital in Sioux Falls, S.D. to Lester C. and Wilma (Frantz) Ross.
Dale attended Lowell and Longfellow grade schools and graduated from Washington High School in 1951.
Dale served in the 146th Field Artillery SD National Guard from April 1950 to June 1952. He enlisted on July 3, 1952 in the U. S. Navy. After completing boot camp in San Diego, he went to ANP School at Norman, OK. He was then stationed in Memphis, TN, where he completed Aviation Electronics School.
In November 1953, Dale was assigned to Composite Squadron 11, an air early warning all weather unit. He was an aviation electronics technician and flew as a radar operator and qualified air crew member.
Dale deployed on the U.S.S. Yorktown CVA 10 from July 1. 1954 to March 3, 1955. During the deployment, the ship was involved in protecting the Straits of Formosa. The air groups provided cover for the protection of Quemoy and the Tachen Islands.
On March 19, 1955, Dale was married to Kathaleen A. Cook at First Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls, SD, where he remained a member until his death. They made their first home in San Diego, CA.
On the 1st of January, 1956, Dale deployed on the U.S.S. Shangri-La CVA 38. He returned to the U.S. and was Honorably Discharged as an Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class on June 29, 1956. Hehas 147 carrier landings during his career and earned the Good Conduct Medal, the China Service Medal and the National Defense Medal.
On returning to Sioux Falls, Dale joined the South Dakota Air National Guard as an Aircraft Radio Maintenance Technician with the rank of Staff Sergeant. He was employed full time from July 1956 to September 1958.
In June 1958, Dale was involved in a tragic car accident that changed the course of his life.
In the fall of 1959, Dale attended Nettleton Community College and after leaving school was employed by Sioux Steel Company from March 1962 through September 1973. He was the head of the Purchasing Department when he left due to a medical disability.
Dale was a 50 year consecutive member of American Legion post 15, and a lifetime member of both the VFW Post 628 and the Disables American Veterans.
Dale was very active in youth sports programs. He started coaching and umpiring in the Hilltop Softball League in 1966. He then was involved in bantam baseball as a coach.
In 1970, he was a charter member in the group that started the Sioux Falls Jr. Football Association. He was an active fundraiser and coached from 1970 through 1973.
Dale was a coach and referee in Gray Y basketball from 1970 through 1975. In 1974 he was coach and chairman of the first 13 year old VFW Teener baseball league. In 1975, Dale was appointed Chairman of the entire VFW baseball program. He held this position from 1975 through 1987. He also participated in Jr. Hi Y ball from1976 through 1979 and was involved in Y Indian guides for five years.
Dale was most proud of his award as the Bnai Brith Sportsman of the Year in 1983 for his efforts in youth sports.
In March of 1998, Dale was inducted into the YMCA Tri State Hall of Fame for 25 years of service.
Dale is survived by: his wife of 57 years, Kathy; his four children, Kim Ross of Novato, CA, Cindy Ross of Marion, SD, Cliff and Dawn Ross of Wothington, MN, and Chip Ross and Mary Holm of Fargo, ND; 10 grandchildren; 7 great-grandchildren; 2 sisters, Mari Albers of Sioux Falls, SD, and Nancy and Larry Pittenger of Sherman, SD; one brother, Eugene and Pat Ross of Portland, OR; and many other relatives and friends. Dale was preceded in death by: his parents, Lester C. and Wilma Ross; and two brother-in-laws, Arnold Albers, and Leon Cook.
The family would like to thank all of the doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and others both in Sioux Falls and Minneapolis that have cared for Dale over these many years.