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New Stanton veteran loved jokes, traveling, flying and his family

| Friday, March 2, 2018, 11:00 p.m.

Vaughn Ross traveled to 38 countries in his military career, and his family says he probably made people smile in every one of them.

“He loved to tell jokes,” said his wife, Lucille Marie Ross.

The first time they met, he told her a joke — and asked her out, she said.

“He had such a wonderful sense of humor,” she said. “I knew that I was going to marry him the moment I met him.”

Mr. Ross was friendly and made people feel important, said his daughter, Janice Scott.

“The grandkids know him for his Donald Duck voice and telling the best jokes,” she said.

Vaughn C. Ross of New Stanton died Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018, at his home. He was 89.

Born Jan. 11, 1929, in Blairsville, he was the son of the late James Eugene and Dorothy Merta Smith Ross.

He graduated from Derry Borough High School in 1946 and enlisted in the Navy, serving more than two years.

After graduating from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, he was commissioned as an officer in the Army. He served for 22 years, from 1954 to 1976, including a tour in Vietnam during the war. He retired as a lieutenant colonel.

After retirement, he worked part time as a substitute teacher in local school districts while continuing his travels overseas. He also crossed the country in a motor home.

A member of the Word of Life Church in Greensburg, he enjoyed playing golf with friends from church. He was a member of VFW Post 444 and a past commander of the American Legion post in Derry.

He was preceded in death by his first wife, Kathryn Yellenic Ross, after 40 years of marriage. Lucille Ross, whose first husband died after 21 years of marriage, said they met April 18, 1994, and married July 8, 1994.

They eloped.

“We went to Mars to get married because Venus was too far, and we drove our Saturn,” she said.

In their first year of marriage, they traveled to Egypt, Paris and Italy and took trips in the motor home, she said.

“It was a wonderful life,” she said. “We never argued. We never said a harsh word to each other.”

Although he loved to tell jokes, Mr. Ross was more of a listener who was interested in other people, his daughter said.

“He just liked people, and he was very friendly,” Scott said.

They moved a lot because of his career, she said.

“His favorite place was probably when he worked in the embassy at The Hague,” his daughter said. He was in charge of buying fresh produce for all the American commissaries in Europe, she said.

Mr. Ross had a private pilot's license and made videos of some of his flights.

He learned magic tricks to perform for his grandchildren and, at 81, went zip-lining at a camp in Ligonier, she said.

He is survived by his wife, Lucille Marie Ross; two daughters, Karen Ross of Hackettstown, N.J., and Janice Scott and Terry of Fairfield, Conn.; son Keith Ross and Bonnie of Elgin, Okla.; stepchildren, Drs. Lisa Hafer and William of New Stanton; James Hartz and Tammy of Ruffsdale; Karen Hartz and Belinda of Coraopolis; Jason Hartz and Kelly of Hunker; and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday at the McCabe Funeral Home, 300 W. Third Ave., Derry. The Latrobe-Derry Veteran Honor Guard will conduct a service at 7:45 p.m. at the funeral home.

An additional viewing will be held from 3 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Word of Life Church, Greensburg, with the funeral service following at 4 p.m.

Memorial donations may be made to Word of Life Ministries, 4497 Route 136, Greensburg, PA 15601.

Brian Bowling is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1218, bbowling@tribweb.com or via Twitter @TribBrian.

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