County first judge-exec dies

By Mary Ann Kearns - [email protected]
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Mason County’s first judge-executive has died.

Billy Forman Ross, 87, of May’s Lick, died Thursday.

Ross was the Mason County judge at the time the state redefined the office from judicial duties to primarily administrative duties.

“He saw the county through that transition,” said current Judge-Executive Joe Pfeffer who was not only a successor to the office but also a neighbor of Ross.

“I grew up knowing Billy,” Pfeffer said. “I knew him as sheriff and as judge.”

Ross was well-known throughout the county, Pfeffer said.

“I certainly had a lot of respect for him,” he said. “He served the county many years. He will be missed.”

Former County Judge-Executive James L. “Buddy” Gallenstein also recalled Ross with respect and fondness.

“I had the privilege of serving with Judge Ross,” when Gallenstein was a commissioner and Ross was judge, he said.

Ross spent most of his life in public service of one sort or another, Gallenstein said, from driving a school bus to judge-executive, the county’s highest elected office

“I can tell you he served with honor and was well respected,” Gallenstein said. That respect extended beyond county lines to the state level, he said.

During Ross’s tenure, the county saw progress in bringing water to unserved areas of the county and in the number of roads which went from gravel to blacktopped, Gallestein said.

“He did a lot for the county. He will be missed,” he said.

Gallenstein said he also appreciated the support he received from Ross after he took over as county-judge executive.

“He never criticized me for the way I managed things,” he said.

Maysville Mayor David Cartmell said Ross was one of the last politicians to go through the ranks to reach the county’s top office.

“He was from a great family that had a great presence in the community,” Cartmell said.

Ross grew up in Sardis and attended school at Sardis Consolidated Schools where he met the woman he would marry, Wanda Mullikin Ross. The two were together for 51 years before Wanda Ross’s death.

Ross was involved in several organizations including as a charter member of the May’s Lick Lions Club, Sheriffs’ Association and as a founding member of May’s Lick Volunteer Fire Department. He was also a deacon and elder at May’s Lick Christian Church.

Ross is survived by his children and grandchildren.

Services for Ross will be Monday at the May’s Lick Christian Church.

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By Mary Ann Kearns

[email protected]