Kenneth “Ken” Ross passed away Thursday, June 29, 2023 in Lloydminster Saskatchewan at the age of 72 years.
Ken is survived by: his children, Chris Ross, Penny Ross, Patrick Ross and Jennifer Ross; grandchildren, Colten, Austin, Bretan, Tristen and Keaton Dykstra; sisters, Nora Harder, Marilyn Davis (Wayne); brother, Des Ross (Sheila); sister-in-law, Colleen Gray (Merv); brother-in-law, Allan Eggen; nephews, Jason Eggen (Mhel), Jeremy Eggen (Kim), David Harder, Justin Vankoughnett (Shelley), Flynn Ross (Bea) and Neil Davis; nieces, Jodi Hallet (Cory), Kerry Chambers, Kim Ross, Bonnie Love (Greg), Katie Ross-Perry (Mitch), Megan Davis; as well as extended family and many good friends.
Ken was predeceased by: his loving wife, Carol Ross; parents, Jack and Marie Ross; sister, Pat Eggen; brother-in-law, Glenn Harder; in-laws, Ben and Jean Stamm.
A Celebration of Life will be held Thursday, July 6 at 2:00 PM at the Lloydminster Exhibition (WLS Convention Centre) Lloydminster, AB. You may view the live streaming of the service under Ken's obituary on McCaw Funeral Service website.
Remembrances of Ken – by Daryl MacDonald
I have known Ken since going to St. Thomas in grade 4. In my career, I have identified many children with learning disabilities, like the one Ken and I both have. He was very intelligent, but Ken and I used to fight to see who would get the lowest spelling score in the class at the end of week test. I think we came out even.
We were in classes together through elementary and junior high and finally started hanging out together in high school, Ken becoming my best friend. Friends do things for each other and Ken called upon me one time. He said he was working for a farmer friend of his and for me to bring rubber boots. I didn’t have a clue that for the next three hours we would be mucking out the guy’s pig barn. It was brutal. It turns out Ken borrowed his farm truck and had a fender bender and was paying back the repair costs with his labour. A few weeks later, we hauled bales in snowy fields in the cold. I ruined my cowboy boots and froze my feet solid.
Paying it forward, Ken helped me drive to Calgary to visit my girlfriend. I was working in a bakery and my shift ended at 2:00 AM. I would go to Ken’s house, quietly sneak into his bedroom and get him into the car. He would sleep in the back seat while I drove to Edmonton where he would take over so I could sleep. One trip the roads were almost impassible due to fog freezing on the road surface. We barely crawled to Edmonton and then to Red Deer where we stopped so Ken could have a rest. After finally finishing the trip, we were three hours late and my girlfriend gave us some “hot tongue” complaining it was almost noon and ‘ruining’ her plans. Not suffering any BS, Ken said, “Ok, I’m going back to Lloyd” and started back to the car. She quickly apologized and we did stay for the weekend.
It was about this time that Ken really liked a new song from Credence Clearwater Revival named ‘Bad Moon Rising’. Unlike sister Nora’s fine voice, Ken’s wasn’t of the same caliber. One day, at full volume, he amused us with his lyrics of ‘bathroom on the right.’ We, of course, teased him unmercifully and he took it in stride.
We saw each other regularly when I visited Mom in Lloyd throughout the time I was in university. I would come for ‘special day’ visits and each May long weekend, I would put in a garden in Mom’s yard and harvest each September, so we were in town often. One such visit, Ken invited me to ride along in a vac truck while he cleaned out a lease. It was on this ride that he got me to drive the vac truck and invited me to work for him in the summer when he and Jack needed someone to cover for them during their two-week holidays. Later, Ellen worked for him and I covered for her, as well.
Once, when my family was visiting, Carol told us about a local farmer that was sending his chickens to market and was selling them at a very reasonable price. She was pregnant with Patrick, but that didn’t stop her from chasing down a good deal. It was during this time that I got to know Chris and Penny, as I would eat my lunch at Ken’s when we were in town. Penny started out being quite shy, but sat on my lap for the rest of the summer while we had our lunches. Patrick was born that year and the next year, Jennifer arrived, finishing off a very busy household. A large house, a large garden and a growing family kept her hoping and she was almost completely on her own as Ken was putting in unbelievable hours to keep his new business running.
That first summer, I rode with Ken together very often as he was showing me the ropes testing the drilling fluid and talking to farmers to arrange disposal. At the end of July, we were together at the accountant’s office, and I gave my dates and times to Ellen, who worked there and who handled Ken’s account. My time for that month was 423 hours! She didn’t believe them, but Ken said, “Yup, we did them together.” At what would be the end of a very long day for most, we would go into the office and start writing up invoices, often ending at 2:00 AM and returning at 7:00 AM to start the next day. We were exhausted! To give his drivers a break, I drove all weekends, and Ken would do lease arrangements, so we never had any days off. In 63 straight days, with August’s time of 425 hours, we had worked the equivalent of 21 weeks of 40-hour weeks. I also made twice the money than I got teaching.
When we were younger in high school, we always had a Designated Driver, even if we didn’t call it that. I would drive a vac truck for someone who had ’26 ounce flu’ as Ken called it. Ken was excellent with his drivers if they still were not sober from the night before. He would always thank them for calling and doing the right thing. It wasn’t until he hung up that he would yell and swear, but the drivers never knew this side of it.
Ken could see the humor in everything. Once we were talking to brothers in Westphalia and Ken complimented them on their canola crop. It turns out the crop was wheat and had a volunteer canola crop that was substantial. He was embarrassed and suggested when I was making lease arrangements, not to do as he had. Another time, he got me to take the sample from all around the pits where the bank broke away and I fell into the sumps. “You should have seen your face!” laughed Ken as he pulled me out.
One summer, it had rained heavily while Ken and family were away for vacation and we got really behind clearing leases. I was covering Ellen, who worked in the one-girl office for RoVac, but one of the drivers was also on vacation so I wasn’t in the office like we had planned. Ken worked all day doing arrangements and drove vac truck late into the evening, so he could rotate his exhausted drivers and give them a night off. I picked up a beer box in my suction pipe and couldn’t spray the fluid out. Prying on the box, it came loose soaking me down to my underwear. I put on a clean coverall, but looked a sight when Ken bought us breakfast in Husky House at 6:00 in the morning with my hair plastered down to my head with drilling mud. He laughed all night over this.
When Ellen returned at the end of her second week, it wasn’t a laughing matter. I was working in the shop that morning, and Ken came to the back and said, “Get your ass in the office before Ellen quits on me.” When she had seen the unfinished work piled up, she burst into tears and was recovering in the office bathroom. When I came in, a foot and a half pile of truck tickets were stacked on a spare desk. Ken was always concerned about the welfare of those who worked for him. That is why he hired teachers because they were only available in the summer and they could be used for summer-relief. Because of my training, I covered for Ken so that he could take his young family camping, usually at Fishing Lake. Also, I covered Jack, Orest, and Ellen and the regular drivers on the weekends, so they could rest with their families. My younger brother Brian covered in the vacuum trucks while the regular drivers rotated through their vacations and every weekend, as well.
Ken’s sense of humor was legendary. He came to me one day and said that he wanted me to play along with him and ‘pull a driver’s leg’. Lloyd was one of Ken’s best drivers and often worked ridiculous hours. One week Lloyd worked 30 hours straight on a job and Ken wanted me to act concerned about the overtime pay he was due. So I went to Lloyd and said it was clear he was entitled to overtime after 12 hours, but there were only 24 hours in a day, meaning I would have to pay him regular pay hours for the last 6 hours he claimed to make up the thirty hours. Lloyd wasn’t very happy about that and told me politely that he didn’t think that was right. Unable to keep a straight face anymore, Ken confessed that we were kidding him and he was going to get all that was due to him.
Another time that we travelled together, we had Spanky, the family Cocker Spaniel, in the vehicle with us. I had invited her to sit on my lap, but Ken warned me that she had been in heat and was worried she would stain my jeans. I wasn’t concerned until we stopped at the farmer’s house and his dog really took a liking to me. Both the landowner and Ken laughed at me, while this German Shepard humped my leg. I, finally, had to go sit in the Scout with an large amorous canine circling the vehicle. Ken laughed about this all the way home.
One time we were north of Dillberry Lake rushing to get to a farmer’s place to make arrangements before the landowner went away for the week to the Calgary Stampede. Ken really wanted this done so he was ‘hauling ass’. Ken was one of the best dirt drivers I have ever been with and our usual speed was 80 miles per hour and our days would be 975 to 1050 miles per day. (This was before metrication so we used the old English system of measurement.) However, this day we were in a hurry and Ken was going 100 miles per hour when we came up to a ‘whoopee’ hill where your stomach goes into your mouth. We became airborne and landed with a crash on two, then four wheels. I went down so far that I smashed my tailbone on the floor of the Scout, then the springs of the seat started working and I banged my head on the roof. My cowboy hat jammed down over my ears, scraping my nose and blasting my glasses to down to my chin. Well, we gave up trying to get to the farmer’s place and we paced out the distance from where we landed to where we took off to be over 100 feet.
Proud grandparents always talk to their friends about their ever-expanding brood of grandbabies, and that was true about Penny’s Colten, Austin and Bretan. On one such visit, Ken and Carol were very worried about Breton.
Patrick eloquently described the events that took place. “When you can’t run, you walk. When you can’t walk, you crawl. And when you can’t do that, you look for someone to carry you.” Ken never hesitated to help someone through the most troubled times. If you weren’t able to walk on your own, he was there to carry you as far as he needed to get you back on your feet again. This was never more important than when Bretan was diagnosed with cancer at the age of only 18 months. Cancer is a formidable foe for anyone, but for a child that young, with the odds incredibly against him and the road to recovery was unfathomable. Ken was equal to the challenge, making sure that Bret was never alone on his pathway to health. He was there for every chemotherapy session, helping to carry his grandson through the battle of a lifetime. Fortunately, Bretan pulled through and is a healthy teen. Tristen and Keaton later joined the family and hearts of their grandparents.
Over the years, Ken worked on this hobby of rebuilding classic cars and dirt track racing cars. He had three Fords, a Falcon, Galaxy and Mustang, which he raced. The last two were painted in ROVAC colors of green and gold. One time I had painted a trunk lid for the Mustang or a rearing bronco, which was stolen the first race out. As well, Ken restored classic custom Fords: ’65 Galaxy, ’73 Mustang, ’64 Comet and a ’54 F100. The later vehicle may have been a replacement for a ’53 Chevy truck Ken had sold earlier, named ‘Whoopee’.
Ken’s cancer diagnosis was a shock to everyone, especially how aggressive the disease turned out to be. Nobody was prepared to watch the rapid deterioration he experienced. I believe we all had a sense of relief when he passed, since his suffering had ended, but I know I will miss my childhood friend until it is my turn to go on that final voyage from which none of us will return. Goodbye, old buddy!
My Dad – Tribute by Penny Ross
Hello, I’m Ken’s oldest daughter Penny. I thank you for coming to dad’s celebration of life. Today we gather to honor a life well lived by the greatest man I have ever known, my dad. When I look around this room I see so many faces belonging to family and friends, some friends that became family, some family that became friends. Dad touched many lives with his quick wit and sense of humor. He liked to tell jokes. He was friendly, generous and helpful. In greeting when asked how he was doing his response was always fairly middling. Dad worked hard to provide for his family, working late hours or away from home. When I was little and dad was working late, mom would feed us kids at supper time, when bedtime came she would send us to bed. Later when dad got home very late, he would sit to eat his supper, I would often get up to sit with him while he ate, snacking on his supper like a bird.
When we made a mistake or had an accident, dad would say “it’s okay, shit happens”. Dad taught us to ride a bike and skate, whenever we would fall, dad would pick us up, dust off the dirt, say your tough, try again, don’t quit, keep going. This encouragement made us determined, and for me helped my already feisty self to become more confident and independent.
Dad taught us to work hard, if we had a job or chore to do and it wasn’t completed to his standards we would have to do it again until it was right, we learned quickly to do the job right the first time.
My dad was very much a family man. While looking through pictures for the slide show, it was easy to see the dedication, devotion, and love he had for his wife, his kids, and his grandkids. Dad wasn’t overly affectionate, he showed his love for us through actions, whether it was spending time with us or fixing something that was important to us, such as bikes or vehicles. Dad spent a lot of time under the hood, repairing what was broken. We learned some colorful language while he was fixing vehicles that were particularly difficult to repair,
Dad’s children were his pride and joy, but his grandchildren were his crowning glory. Starting with Colten in March of 2001. The first time he held Cole it was love, and a bond was forged. Austin followed in May of 2002, dad fondly called him Squeak. Bretan came along in January 2006, dad was so proud to have his name used as Bretan’s middle name. Tristen was born in August of 2009, the first and only granddaughter. Dad called her Red because she had curly, red locks. Last but not least came Keaton in December of 2011, born 5 weeks early is the runt of the litter, dad called him Kid.
Dad spent a lot of time with his grandkids. He attended their activities and school functions. When Colten and Austin played hockey, Grandpa was in the stands cheering them on. When the kids played rugby, grandpa was on the side lines. He didn’t understand the game at first but once Colten explained it to him, he got hooked; especially watching Colten who was an excellent player. Dad took the kids to car shows and taught them all about cars, the boys are typical boys with a love of cars that they inherited from their grandfather. Dad tinkered in the garage with the boys, he taught Bretan how to weld. Dad had Bretan help him take an engine apart he was working on to rebuild. Bretan watched and learned as grandpa explained the parts and how they worked, I think besides rebuilding an engine Grandpa was building a future mechanic. Dad attended quite a few Father’s Day activities with his grandkids. He was the positive, stable and present male role model they needed, he was present for them, encouraged them, and cheered them on; besides mom and I, he was their biggest fan, and they loved him fiercely and unconditionally.
Dad was always there for me as a kid, and still as an adult. This taught me the importance of family, he was the same way with his grandkids. When Bretan was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 2007, at 18 months; dad took time off work so he and mom could come to Saskatoon for each and every one of Bretan’s chemotherapy treatments. Dad would just hold him, sing to him, love him up. My dad shed a few tears during this time, it was difficult not knowing if the treatments would save his grandson’s life, knowing that the odds were not good. It was important to him that he spend as much time with Bretan as he could, building a bond so strong nothing could break it. As Bretan grew up he would go to car shows with dad, when dad would drive his little red ford, Bretan would sit beside him, He would clutch and Bret would shift, this was quite an adventure for a little boy. Bretan was once asked what grandpa’s truck box hauled. Bretan responded what his grandpa had told him, “this truck hauls ass”.
In 2010 I became very ill and spent 3-1/2 months in the hospital. During this time my dad was always there. He came to the hospital daily to make sure I was eating, which was difficult. I had lost a lot of muscle mass and was very weak and struggled to walk or stand from sitting. I had many falls, too many times my dad had to physically pick me up off the floor or ground. He struggled to see his strong, feisty girl going through something he had no control over. He got angry a few times and asked me where my fight was. He told me I was giving up and being stubborn by not eating, which I replied, “I guess I take after you,” he laughed. When I was sent to RUH in Saskatoon, mom and dad brought the kids to see me in the hospital. When I had my surgery in November of 2010, mom and dad were there. They stayed with me pre-surgery and waited anxiously during and after surgery. I will always be grateful for their love and support.
My dad was my hero, the first man I ever loved. I can never thank him enough for all his love and support; for the times he picked me up. He taught me to be responsible, respectable, honest, resilient, determined, reliable, and loyal. I hope that one day, my boys will be as great and honorable as their grandpa. That Tristen will find a strong, dependable, loyal man like her grandpa. Thank you, dad, we will be okay because you taught us well, I will be brave and courageous like you. I will see you soon, time does not exist in Heaven, 1000 years on earth is only the blink of an eye in heaven.
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
May the rain fall softly upon your fields
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hands.
Sailing with Dad – Chris Ross
Dad bought a sailboat, I think I was about five years old. It was a Sea Spray catamaran. It amazed me to watch him out on the lake. He was always pushing it to the limit, the wind would grab the sail and pick one side of the boat five feet out of the water. Dad would be hanging out over the edge on the high side, using his weight and strength to balance the boat on one pontoon. He was riding that that fine line between going as fast as the boat could go, and having the wind pull it completely over on him. In my eyes, he was the fastest thing on the lake. There were a few times, it went over on him. But he was able to get it righted and pointed out of the wind. He would pull himself back up on the deck, steer it back into the wind and take off again.
After a couple years, dad started taking me with him. We didn’t go as fast as he did when he was by himself. I didn’t get to experience what it was like to have it up on one pontoon, flying over the water. But often dad would give me the rudder and tell me where to aim it. Then he would lay on his back, close his eyes and relax. Looking back on it now, that might have been the only time that I saw my dad completely at ease; with the wind in his sails.
Card of Thanks
We, the children of Ken Ross, would like to thank the following.
RUH Saskatoon doctors and nurses for the excellent care of dad pre-surgery and post-surgery. Ambulance Attendants who transported dad from Saskatoon to Lloydminster as well as various appointments.
Lloydminster hospital doctors, nurses and staff who took exemplary care of dad during the last few months of his life. We are thankful for your support, compassion and care you gave our dad.
Thank you, Uncle des and Auntie Marilyn for your love, guidance, support and daily visits with dad.
Thank you to all dad’s friends and family who visited dad during his stay in the hospital. You helped brighten his days.
We thank those who brought food to the house, your kindness and condolence brought comfort during a difficult time and helped ease the stress during our preparation is saying farewell to our dad.
Thank you for the phone calls, visits and prayers. Thank you to those who sent flowers, donations and cards, your words and love were heartwarming.
Special Thank you to our family friend and minister Colleen Groenen for officiating dad’s service. Your words were comforting.
Dad’s long-time friend Daryl MacDonald who gave the eulogy. The stories and memories you shared brought smiles and laughter, helped to lighten a difficult and sad day.
Thank you to the Lloydminster Auto Club, and all dad’s car club friends and family for helping us to give dad one last cruise before the service.
Thank you to Baytex Energy for letting us borrow the sketch of our dad that is hanging in your office. What a treasure you have hanging on your wall.
Thank you to all who attended dad’s celebration of life. Your presence, compassion and love were felt.
To the WLS Convention Center staff for helping with set up and preparing the lunch for the service.
A special thank you to Colten, Austin, Bretan, Tristen and Keaton for your contributions to grandpa’s service. Grandpa would have been so proud of all of you. You can bet he was smiling down from heaven.
Thank you to Brett McCaw for directing the service. McCaw’s funeral services family and staff for your compassion, care and support. You all helped to make dad’s service a celebration of life, a life well lived, memorable and beautiful.
Thank you to Audina at Flowers on the Fly for the beautiful arrangement for the urn. It was short notice and you did an amazing job; the flowers were absolutely beautiful.
Thank you to all who attended the interment at the Lashburn cemetery and who came to the house for supper and shared an evening of remembrance with us. We are thankful for all the support and love we received.
Thank you to everyone who had a special place in our dad’s life. He was so lucky and blessed to have so many great friends and family. He truly lived a life well lived.
Donations to Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital or Border Paws Animal Shelter Society.
Ken's memorial card can be viewed or downloaded from the link below.