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Crossing guard protected kids, nurtured animals

| Thursday, May 23, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Gertrude Ross, 94, of Shaler Township, died Sunday, May 19, 2013, at Marian Manor, Green Tree.

When Cecelia Ross' two sons were young and wanted to see some animals, they would visit a familiar place.

“My kids grew up going to Grandma Gert's house instead of going to the zoo,” Ross said.

At Gertrude Ross' home, they would find a menagerie of animals, from dogs to raccoons to monkeys. Mrs. Ross would care for any animal in need when she was off duty during 50 years of shifts as a crossing guard on Mt. Royal Boulevard for Shaler Area School District, her family said.

Gertrude Ross of Shaler died on Sunday, May 19, 2013. She was 94.

“She was a very unique person. She just loved her animals to death,” Cecelia Ross said of her mother-in-law.

Dan Ross remembers his mother taking in injured wild and stray animals when he was in grade school. Mrs. Ross' first “patients” were a young raccoon, a baby crow, some cardinals and a chipmunk.

“People heard about her and would call” with injured or abandoned animals, Dan Ross said. “The police even started to do it, too.”

“She just felt that she was helping (the animals),” he said.

Over the decades, Mrs. Ross cared for hundreds of animals, her family said.

Her nurturing personality was a natural fit for a job ensuring the safety of children daily as a crossing guard, but she could be tough, Cecelia Ross said. Mrs. Ross had hand-held stop signs and cones in her car and wasn't afraid to use them, she said.

“She was the type of person who said what she wanted to say, and if you didn't like it, too bad,” Cecelia Ross said.

She was overwhelmed by her mother-in-law's animal collection at first, but “after awhile you got to see that her heart was so kind.”

“She just loved the school and the animals,” Ross said.

In an August 1996 interview, Mrs. Ross told a Tribune-Review reporter, “People tell me I'll get my reward in heaven, but I've had my reward right here on Earth.”

Mrs. Ross and her late husband, Paul V. Ross, had two children, Daniel Ross and Paul Ross, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Friends are invited to attend a memorial blessing service at 11:30 a.m. Saturday in the chapel of Kyper Funeral Home in Glenshaw. A private interment will be held in Mt. Royal Cemetery in Glenshaw.

Memorial contributions in Mrs. Ross' memory can be made to the Humane Society of Western Pennsylvania or Animal Full Life Rescue Inc.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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