Thomas Robert Ross, Age 76, died Monday, July 19, 2021 in Washington, DC.
He was born in 1945 in Kingsville, Texas, the only son and younger of two children of the late Samuel Thomas and Willow June (Lowery) Ross. He lived in Baytown, Texas, before completing high school in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, Class of 1963, where his father was a Celanese Corporation executive.
Tom received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from The Pennsylvania State University in 1967 after spending his senior year studying in Bregenz, Austria, and his master’s degree in experimental psychology at Central Michigan University in 1971, where he was also a Catholic elementary school teacher.
Tom then became a psychology teacher and guidance counseling department director at a private school in San Jose, Costa Rica. He taught the son and daughter of then-Costa Rican President Jose Pepe Figueres. An avid hiker, Tom once walked a portion of the remote southeastern shore of Costa Rica to Panama enjoying the pristine nature. After Costa Rica, Tom also partly completed doctoral studies in counseling at Michigan State University before accepting a research position at the Organization of America States in Washington, DC.
After thirty-eight years of federal government service, Tom retired in 2015 from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). His last assignment was in the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance where he served as a program analyst for approximately twenty-five years. He joined USAID’s Foreign Service in October 1976 as an International Development Intern/Education Specialist and remained in the Foreign Service until he transitioned to the Civil Service in 1988. Overseas he worked in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Kenya, and Zimbabwe. He served as an education officer in the Dominican Republic for five years, using an interactive radio-based instructional program for children in remote villages. In Washington, DC, Tom also served in the Bureau for Science and Technology and in the Africa Bureau.
A high school musician, Tom was also a founding member of the National Chorus performing with the National Symphony in San Jose, Costa Rica. He sang with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC, and in, 1984, met Dr. Peter Muehrer backstage at Lincoln Center, NYC, while they were waiting to go onstage for a chorus performance. Dr. Muehrer was Tom’s husband of 36 years–both federal public servants. He and Peter also enjoyed hikes in numerous United States national parks, including the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Olympic National Park, the Cascades, Mount Rainier, Banff and Jasper National Parks in Canada and many more. Tom was an accomplished nature photographer in all these locations.
Tom is survived by his husband Dr. Peter Muehrer and by his older sister Patricia (Gerald) Harman of Camarillo, California; niece Emily Harman (PJ) Stewart; and nephew Michael Harman, both of Thousand Oaks, California. Contributions in Tom’s memory may be made to the two college scholarship funds that he established and endowed: The Samuel T. and Thomas R. Ross Scholarship at Schreyer Honors College of The Pennsylvania State University or the Ross Family Scholarship at Point Pleasant, West Virginia High School through the Parkersburg, West Virginia Area Community Foundation.
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