The People of the Central Area: Fordie Ross, Former Moderator, Madrona Presbyterian Church

This post is part of a series of profiles of Central District residents, part of the “People of the Central Area” project developed and written by Madeline Crowley.

Photo by Madeline Crowley

Photo by Madeline Crowley

About Fordie Ross:
Even at nearly 100 years old, Fordie’s life revolves around service to others. It gets him up and out to Y’s Men’s meetings, to church and out on his 2-mile walks. He is a living example of how a life focused on giving keeps you alert, active and fully alive.

Where did you and Thelma live in the Central Area?

On 32nd Avenue, north of the Madrona Presbyterian Church. In the early 1950s, we lived in a house that had a dirt basement. Every week I would go and get concrete. I finished that floor. I have to ask what you have heard of me?

You’re spoken of very fondly as a very smart, very kind man. Mr. Zimmerly told me you’re a good man with a long history with the church. I also saw an article on your walking program in the Seattle Times.

I have a long history of service both in Seattle and the Church. Also, I do walk every day. One day a reporter from the Seattle Times asked to walk the two miles with me. When we arrived back home, he said, ‘Hey, let me get inside because I have to sit down.’ He was tired.

Can you begin with the Grace Church?

The Grace Church (formerly on Cherry & 22nd, building still extant) would be about the same size as the living room of my house. Before that though, my wife and daughter were born in Oklahoma City, OK.  I lived there and worked at a Baptist Church. One day, I met a Seattle Minister who found out I was well versed in Sales. He told me about a newspaper in Seattle. Then, the owner of the paper called and asked me to come to Seattle to take a test to become the Editor of the paper. His name was Noodles Smith, the richest black man ever to come to Seattle.

I came to Seattle, as did five other black men from around the country. We were all given a test, which I won. Two weeks after I moved here, Noodles Smith dropped dead. I didn’t have the money to keep the newspaper going and his family couldn’t agree on what to do, so the newspaper was closed. That meant that I was out of a job. (long pause) I pause because if I tell you what happened immediately, I would kill the magnificence of the whole story. I won’t tell you right at this minute.So, let me tell you that my wife, child and I had come to Seattle and we arrived on a Sunday. On that same Sunday we found Grace Presbyterian Church. I was born a Presbyterian, my father was a Presbyterian Minister. We not only joined the Church, we pledged and we never missed a pledge from 1952 until today.

To read the rest of the story, click here.

3 thoughts on “The People of the Central Area: Fordie Ross, Former Moderator, Madrona Presbyterian Church

  1. Thank you for these profiles. This one was truly exceptional. An exceptional man, with an exemplary life. Thanks for sharing.

  2. What an exceptional person and human being! I met both Mr Ross and his spouse in Seattle. One of the areas of his selfless work that was not noted are his contributions to the development of the Central Area Senior Citizens organization. Mr. Ross worked closely with Mrs. Sarah Lynch, the City of Seattle and others to establish the Central Area Senior Citizens organization.

    Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

    I.M. Spence-Lewis M.D.

  3. Thanks to both Ian and Dr. I.M. Spence for your kind words and also additional information!

    He is wonderful; a lovely human being. I didn’t know about the Central Area Senior Citizens organization, his life was dedicated to service so it doesn’t surprise me there were things he didn’t have time to mention.

    Sadly, his wife has passed on.