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Former local TV anchor dies

LO's Richard Ross is best known for his work at KATU
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Richard Ross, a Northwest television news pioneer, died Monday in his Lake Oswego home at the age of 86.

Ross was suffering from Alzheimer's Disease and congestive heart failure.

Ross worked in TV and radio for more than 40 years, and was best known as the anchor of Portland's KATU news.

'He valued integrity and dedication and, above all else, accuracy, as all newscasters did in his day,' said John Lewis of Lake Oswego, who met Ross in 1956. 'He was a journalistic purist.'

In an interview with the Lake Oswego Review in 2004, Ross said he wasn't a fan of A.M. talk radio.

'During my time, your job was not to sway audiences,' he said. 'Your job was to give the news a purist approach.'

He added that he was disappointed in the lack of depth he found in TV news at the time of the interview. 'I'd like to see stories in greater depth,' he said. 'I come from a time when we'd cover a local story for five minutes.'

Ross combined an authoritative command of his broadcasts with a gentlemanly demeanor that made him a fixture on local TV for three decades.

'He was dedicated,' said Lewis, who met Ross through their membership in the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. 'He had a mission in life, and that was to keep people informed. That's what drove him.'

He also loved Lake Oswego. He moved here in 1956 from Seattle, choosing Lake Oswego because of its schools, according to his daughter Kimberly Ross of Lake Oswego.

'He would really want the people of this community to know how much this community meant to him,' Kimberly Ross said. 'He was really very happy living here.'

Ross was born in Spokane in 1921, and graduated from Washington State University. He began radio broadcasting in college and went on to be involved with the Armed Forces Broadcasting. He was a marine in World War II and was part of the landing at Okinawa.

His TV career began with KING-TV in Seattle, where he was an anchor. KING-TV owner Dorothy Bullit assigned him to anchor the Portland upstart station KGW in 1956. There he worked with Ivan Smith, Doug LaMear, Jack Capell and Gov. Tom McCall.

'He had a high regard for his profession and a good reputation among his peers,' said Lewis, who noted that he was in the control booth watching Ross during KGW's inaugural broadcast in 1956.

In subsequent years, Ross was a popular emcee for events such as the Rose Festival Parade and the festival coronation, as well as many banquets.

After his retirement in 1986, Ross worked for the Portland advertising firm Pihas, Schmidt and Westerdahl. He was also on the board at Goodwill Industries and was president of East Portland Rotary.

Photography was one of his favorite hobbies, according to Kimberly Ross. His scenic photos of Oregon can be found on greeting cards at Graham's Book and Stationery in Lake Oswego. Ross also sang in the choir at Lake Grove Presbyterian Church.

He has four grandchildren. His wife of 57 years, Barbara, died in 2006. His other daughter, Lucienne Steup, lives in Karlsruhe, Germany.

Eileen Nielson of Lake Oswego, whose ex-husband Bill Nielson worked with Ross in Seattle in the late 1940s and early 1950s, described Ross as a 'friendly, accommodating person.'

'He would always say 'Hi. How are you today?' He was a very well liked person,' Nielson said.

Remembrances can be sent to the Alzheimer's Association, 1311 N.W. 21st Ave., Portland, Ore., 97209.

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 28, at Lake Grove Presbyterian Church, 4040 Sunset Drive.