The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #120096   Message #2609350
Posted By: Don Firth
11-Apr-09 - 04:12 PM
Thread Name: Obit: Seattle's John Ross, Mudcatter, April 2009
Subject: RE: Obit: Seattle's John Ross, April 09
This was a real jolt when I first saw Jon Bartlett's opening post yesterday.

I can't recall offhand where I first met John, but I do remember his inviting Barbara and me, plus a whole bunch of other singers to his house on Queen Anne Hill for an informal reception or party during the first Northwest Folklife Festival I sang in in the late 1970s. The house had a large living room and he often had house concerts there. And I kept running into John from time to time, but I can't say that I knew him all that well at first.

But as I understand it, John was also the one responsible for the Coffeehouse Reunion Concert (or "Geezer's concert") at the 2003 Northwest Folklife Festival. John, along with some of the singers involved, met in Barbara's and my apartment a few times before the concert to plan things out, and it was then that we got to know each other better.

A few years ago, I was trying to set up Barbara's and my computers with a wireless internet connection and I was getting nowhere with it. Knowing that John wrote computer books, I gave him a call to ask him a few questions and he came over and got us all set up. From that time on, knowing he didn't have family in the area, we have been inviting him to our holiday get-togethers, along with a number of other "orphans" we know—friends who also have no families nearby.

John was very knowledgeable in many areas, and in the folk music field he knew many of the "biggies" and "not-so-biggies." He was hard at work writing a book on the history of folk music in the Pacific Northwest. I am doing the same thing, but John was using an academic, historical approach, whereas mine is taking a more informal, personal approach, so we weren't stepping on each others toes and we frequently exchanged information.

I don't know how far along John was with the book (I gathered from some things he said that it was fairly well along), but I hope that the work he has done so far doesn't remain unfinished and get lost—that someone highly competent can take it over and finish it, because I am sure it will be of considerable value. I would be very reluctant to try to tackle it myself because frankly, I don't feel up to the task of completing the work in the way he started it, but I certainly hope someone does.

He has done a great deal of work in archiving material for the Seattle Folklore Society, and he generously offered Bob Nelson some major assistance in his archiving project, along with digitizing and preserving some of my tapes and irreplaceable vinyl records.

It's a cliché to say that John will be sorely missed, but—he will be sorely missed, both for his efforts in behalf of folk music and for his friendship and generosity.

Don Firth

P. S. Regarding mg's observation, John said that his heritage was Jewish, but as he put it himself, he was "non-practicing."