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Robert James 'Bobby' Ross, 1982 - 2021
"He made lives bettter"
January 29, 2021

Obituary and life story submitted by the family.

r. Robert James ‘Bobby’ Ross, MD, PhD, son of Pamlico Community College President Dr. Jim Ross and Pam Ross, died Monday, January 18, 2021 as a result of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). He was 38.

Bobby passed away peacefully with his parents in prayer by his side. He’d most recently lived in New Haven, Connecticut before moving to be with his parents and family in North Carolina eight months ago.

A tall man wearing a black graduation hat stands between a shorter couple. The couple half embrace the younger man as all smile at the camera.
Dr. Robert James ‘Bobby’ Ross, center, celebrates with his parents, Dr. Jim Ross, left, and Mrs. Pam Ross, right, at the May 2016 Doctor of Medicine (MD) commencement ceremony at Yale University. (Ross Family photo)

Bobby earned his MD with honors in 2016 and his PhD with honors in 2014, both from Yale University. In 2006, he was one of 10 students worldwide selected to receive a full-tuition, merit-based scholarship to earn both degrees over an eight-year period. Afterwards, Bobby (now Dr. Ross) remained at Yale as a resident physician in psychiatry, specializing in serving military veterans. By 2019, the effects of ALS prevented him from continuing the work he loved so much.

In his final months, Bobby’s movement was limited to his eyes. His mind, however, was alert as ever. Through an assistive device allowing him to communicate using eye movement, the younger Dr. Ross engaged in nuanced conversations with his parents and others on topics ranging from medicine and politics to higher education and sports, and his faith.

“The fact that Bobby contracted ALS, suffered tremendously from it, and died from it should not overshadow the unique brightness of his overall life,” said his father, Dr. Jim Ross. “Bobby had a life filled with astonishing achievements, great overall happiness, and abundant joy he spread wherever he went. Most importantly, wherever he went and whatever he did, he made lives better.

“As his father, I saw Bobby develop a deep faith and I believe that the most important essence of Bobby that brought such an incredible legacy of making lives better is that he consistently followed the teachings of Jesus Christ in caring more about others rather than himself. I saw this consistently as he worked to help others throughout his life and the good this brought about.

“When Bobby earned his PhD from Yale, I was so proud for his academic achievements but something else made me just as proud,” said the elder Dr. Ross. “Nearly every fellow student in his lab came up to me that day and revealed how Bobby had voluntarily helped them when they desperately needed academic help, encouragement, and friendship. Several said they might not have made it that far, or even dropped out, without Bobby’s help for them.”

“When Bobby earned his MD, Pam and I were so proud that he bravely did so while fighting the effects of ALS. After, he then became a Yale resident physician in psychiatry, we were so proud of the love he showed and care he provided military veterans, which he specialized in. He did so as the horrible disease continued to profoundly devastate all his physical capabilities.

“Bobby earned a prestigious Yale award that year for outstanding clinical care of patients because of his inspired, loving, and effective work with veterans.”

Dr. Jim Ross praised his wife Pam, who led the care giving efforts for Bobby right up until the end. “Pam was like an angel on earth as she displayed amazing strength, courage, and love for our beloved son throughout Bobby’s battle for life.”

Because the younger Dr. Ross spent most of his adult life in Connecticut, there will not be any local viewing, funeral service or receiving of friends. The family requests no flowers or gifts, but welcomes emails to jross@pamlicocc.edu and greeting cards, which can be sent to the family via the college’s address at P.O. Box 185, Grantsboro, NC 28529.

Dr. and Mrs. Ross wish to thank from the bottom of their hearts everyone in Pamlico County and elsewhere for their prayers on behalf of their son and their entire family. They credit this with giving them strength and comfort throughout the horrific medical ordeal their son Bobby went through.

Posted Friday January 29, 2021 by Allison DeWeese

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