James "Brother" Ross, 83: A lifelong fisherman with a hearty laugh

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PORTLAND — James “Brother” Ross, 83, died at Mercy Hospital on Feb. 1 after a lengthy battle with esophageal cancer.

He was born on June 9, 1928, on Chebeague Island, one of four children of Etta and James W. Ross St. He became known as “Brother” very early in his life by his older siblings and the name stuck with him. He was educated in Chebeague Schools and later in Butler School in Portland after his family moved there during war time.

At the age of 16 he enrolled in welding school in Portland. He was proud to be one of the many who worked on the liberty ship U.S.S. Jeremiah O’Brian, the last liberty ship built in South Portland. Later in life, Ross worked winters welding for William’s Bros. and Gowen Marine.

Ross was drafted during the Korean War. He was sent to Germany immediately after boot camp and spent two years there until he was discharged as a corporal in 1954.

He was a lifelong fisherman, beginning with sardine fishing alongside his father and two brothers until the industry began to fade in the 1960s. Shortly after that, he became a commercial lobster fisherman who worked out of several boats, finally becoming the owner of the “Sylvia R” in 1985. After his son Gary bough his own boat, they worked side-by-side as partners and best friends.

Ross spent many happy hours with his family and friends at the family hunting camp in Waite. He taught himself to play the guitar and banjo and became a member of a local band called The Wagoneers.

He also loved mackerel fishing, shucking clams, picking crab meat and filleting fish. He enjoyed his annual three-day vacation in Boothbay Harbor, where he would track down many local fishermen to trade stories. He was very proud of his heritage and would attend the Scottish Games at Thomas Point.

Ross loved animals, especially dogs, and often carried a treat in his pocket just in case. He readily talked to dogs he met, even though they couldn’t talk back. His playful sense of humor and hearty laughter will be greatly missed by his friends and family.

His family wishes to express their thanks to the Chebeague Island Rescue team, the Mercy hospital staff and Dr. Roger Inhorn and Carolyn Murphy from Mercy Fore River who gave their all in treatment and kindness.

Ross is survived by his wife of more than 55 years, Sylvia Hamilton Ross; son Gary James Ross; brother Richard “Poochie” Ross and his wife, Priscilla; nieces Beverly Murray and her husband, Pat, and Barbara Caldwell of Tennessee; nephew Stewart Townsend of Portland; great nephews Patrick Murray of Falmouth and Jon Caldwell of Tennessee; and a great niece April Caldwell of Tennessee.

A funeral service will be held on Chebeague Island at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, at the Chebeague Island Methodist Church. Burial will take place in the spring.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Chebeague United Methodist Church, 258 North Road, Chebeague Island, ME 04017.

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