Bill’s Obituary

Bill’s Obituary (Long $1600)

William (Bill) Oettinger Ross passed from this life into another on the morning of February 10, 2023 at the age of 91.

Bill was born in 1931 in Kinston, North Carolina, the son of Julian Wadsworth Ross and Mary Oettinger Ross. He grew up in Elizabeth City, and never lost his Eastern North Carolina accent, or his love for the beach.

During high school he was a member of ROTC, and after college, spent two years in the Airforce. Bill completed officer training in Indiana and then was stationed in Germany. His job was to requisition parts for airplanes to keep them flying. He often had to take multiple parts off of one plane to keep others in the air, while waiting for other parts to come in.

A graduate of NC State as a Mechanical Engineer, he specialized in heating and air conditioning. He was also a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. His career began In Winston Salem, designing HVAC systems for textile mills. He also enjoyed the arts, and met Elizabeth backstage at the Little Theater when he was the set designer and she was the actress who had to fall into his arms as she jumped off the set.

He married Elizabeth Larned Sproul In 1960. Together they shared 62 adventurous years, many with students and friends, and with their three children. They traveled widely, leading students and friends to many of the art centers in the States and in Europe. 

After working for a number of companies and the Mecklenburg school system he joined Central Piedmont Community College where he helped develop the HVAC department, bringing with him the contacts he had made with the ASHRAE organization. At the college, he found that he had a gift for teaching and that the students profited from his knowledge and experience. 

Bill’s avocation was music, whether playing an instrument or singing. In high-school Bill played trombone in the marching band, and then continued to play in college at NC State. Wherever he lived… in Winston Salem, Greensboro, or Charlotte, he was an active member of a presbyterian church choir. He left the choir at Myers Park Presbyterian when he could no longer read the words in the hymn book as he walked down the aisle.  He also loved Jazz, growing up hearing it on the radio. He loved to play jazz music at home… when Elizabeth wasn’t at home!

Together Elizabeth and Bill built Airy Knoll Arts Project on Elizabeth’s family farm in Virginia’s  Shenandoah Valley as a multigenerational residential artist retreat and study. At first a program with the support of CPCC, Bill was instrumental in the program becoming a nonprofit organization. With numbers of students participating in the program in summer classes each year since 1998, this program has touched hundreds of students of the arts. The same night as his passing AKAP had an opening of students’ artworks.

Their home at the farm and in Charlotte was always open to those who needed a roof over their head as they were finishing school or here for an internship. They hosted visitors from all over the world, many becoming an integral part of their lives. 

Bill Ross started doing ancestry research around 2000, after he inherited photos from his mother and did not know many of his ancestors. What began was a passion for research and an interest in telling the stories of his early Jewish ancestors. His research for Oettinger and Sproul families is available on Ancestry.com.

Bill also had a passion for bridge and proved to be an excellent player among his peers regularly. He tried to teach many others to play… but we were never at his level. Bill also played cribbage when he was in the Air Force, and later taught family members. We were much more competitive in cribbage than in bridge.

Bill is survived by his wife Elizabeth, brother Edwin, children Rebecca Holley Ross, David Adams Ross and his fiance, Selina Kelly, Jonathan Sproul Ross and his wife Laura. His three grandchildren are Benjahmin Adams Ross, Lucas Alexander Ross, and Stella Ashlee Ross, David’s children.

A memorial service for Bill will be on Sat, April 15 at 11am at Myers Park Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC. Another service will be held in August at Airy Knoll in Virginia.

Gifts can be made in Bill’s honor to Airy Knoll Arts Project (airyknollarts.org) and/or Charlotte Hospice (hpccr.org)


Bill’s Obituary (Shorter $1250)

William (Bill) Oettinger Ross, 91, passed from this life into another on the morning of February 10, 2023. He was born in 1931 in Kinston, North Carolina, the son of Julian Wadsworth Ross and Mary Oettinger Ross. He grew up in Elizabeth City, and never lost his Eastern North Carolina accent, or his love for the beach.

In high school he was a member of ROTC and after spent two years in the Air Force. He graduated from NC State as a Mechanical Engineer, specializing in HVAC systems design. He was also a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity.

His career began In Winston Salem, designing HVAC systems for textile mills. Bill worked with various engineering firms, then with the Mecklenburg school system, and finally with Central Piedmont Community College. At CPCC he helped develop the HVAC department, bringing with him the contacts he had made with the ASHRAE organization.

He also enjoyed the arts, and met Elizabeth backstage at the Little Theater in Winston Salem. He married Elizabeth Larned Sproul In 1960. Together they shared 62 adventurous years, many with students and friends, and with their three children. They traveled widely, leading students and friends to many of the art centers in the States and in Europe, and opening up their homes in Charlotte and Virginia to art students and others.

Together Elizabeth and Bill built Airy Knoll Arts Project on Elizabeth’s family farm in Virginia’s  Shenandoah Valley as a multigenerational residential artist retreat and study, starting in 1998. The same night as his passing AKAP had an opening of students’ artworks.

Bill’s avocation was music, whether playing an instrument or singing. He was also an excellent bridge player. Around 2000 Bill developed a passion for ancestry research and an interest in telling the stories of his early Jewish ancestors. His research for Oettinger and Sproul family lines is available on Ancestry.com.

Bill is survived by his wife Elizabeth, brother Edwin, children Rebecca Holley Ross, David Adams Ross and his fiance, Selina Kelly, Jonathan Sproul Ross and his wife Laura. His three grandchildren are Benjahmin Adams Ross, Lucas Alexander Ross, and Stella Ashlee Ross, David’s children.

A memorial service will be held at 11am on Saturday, April 15 at Myers Park Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC. Another service will be held in August at Airy Knoll in Virginia for the internment of his ashes. Stories, memories, and photos of Bill can be shared at airyknoll.com. Gifts can be made in Bill’s honor to Airy Knoll Arts Project (airyknollarts.org) and/or Charlotte Hospice (hpccr.org)


Bill’s Obituary (VERY Short – $641.32 with photo)

William (Bill) Oettinger Ross, 91, passed from this life on February 10, 2023. He was born in Kinston, NC, to Julian Wadsworth Ross and Mary Oettinger Ross. In 1960, Bill married Elizabeth Larned Sproul In 1960. Together they shared 62 adventurous years, many with students and friends, and with their three children, Rebecca Holley Ross, David Adams Ross, and Jonathan Sproul Ross. With Elizabeth, Bill helped create the Airy Knoll Arts Project as a non-profit arts organization. He loved music, bridge, and connecting with people. Bill’s research for Oettinger and Sproul families is available on Ancestry.com. A memorial service will be held at 11am on Sat, April 15 at Myers Park Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC. Visit airyknoll.com for more info and stories about Bill.