Mary Jean Ross


SPRINGFIELD, Va. — On a rainy Sunday, May 24, 1931, on the South side of Chicago, Mary Jean Noonan (Ross) was born to brighten the lives of her parents, Frances Marcella Brady Noonan and Ambrose J. Noonan. For the rest of her days she would continue to brighten the lives of all who knew her.

Mary Jean was the eldest of three children. Her younger brother Ambrose Patrick Noonan resides in Seattle, Wash. Her younger sister Nancy A. Noonan Kaminski passed away in 1994.

Mary Jean met and married the love of her life, Wilford Henry Ross, Jr., when they were both working at Detrex Labs in Chicago. As Mary Jean would say, “she was from the South side and Will was from the North side and never the twain shall meet.” However, they obviously did and were married in 1953.  Soon after, they moved to Detroit, Mich., where their two older children were born—Wilford Henry III, and Geraldine (Jeri) Frances.

They moved many times over the course of their long marriage. Mary Jean always loved to move and make new friends. Daughter Mary Charlotte was born in St. Paul, Minn., and their youngest child, daughter Nancy Jean, was born back in Chicago. After Nancy’s birth they lived in Omaha, Neb., St. Joseph, Mo., Wauconda, IL, and Richmond Hill, Ga.

Mary Jean’s favorite occupation was Mom, but she held many jobs over the years. She was President of Chempro Manufacturing, the veterinary pharmaceutical chemical company she and her husband Will started and owned in St. Joseph, Mo. She was also a fashion model and co-owner of a modeling agency, worked for many years in the medical field, and finally retired from Dominick’s Foods. She was a member of the Beta Sigma Phi International, a service sorority, and always remembered her work with the sorority with fondness. She was a devout Catholic, and as President of the parish guild, helped to organize and support the building of the new church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in St. Joseph in the 1980’s.

She lost her dear husband, Will, after 64 years of marriage on Jan. 18, 2018. On June 13, 2019 after a long illness, she and Will were reunited at last.

She will be sorely missed by her brother Patrick and his wife, Bernadette; and her four children, Judge Wilford Ross and wife, Joanne of Calabasas, Calif., Dr. Jeri Bills and husband, Chris of Cary, N.C.; Charlotte Herring, LTC, USA (Ret) and husband, John Mahoney, Col, USMCR (Ret), of Springfield, Va., and Nancy Kattenfeld and husband, Heinz of High Point, N.C.

Mary Jean loved being a grandmother to her nine grandchildren: Brady and Carson (Jillian) Bills, Katie Herring, Henry, Louie and Adele Kattenfeld, and Michael, Kyle and James Mahoney.

As Mary Jean would say, “ask me no questions, I’ll tell you no lies.” She always “looked like she stepped out of a band box.” I hope I’m not “damning with faint praise” because she was “hotter than a two-dollar pistol.” She was “as Irish as Paddy’s pig”, and would tell us, “God doesn’t close a door without opening a window.” “Tomorrow is another day,” and “things will look better in the morning I’m sure.” So, we’ll just “put on some lipstick, and no one will notice,” how much we’ll miss her sage advice and funny sayings.

Visitation will be June 24, 2019 at St. Bernadette Catholic Church, Springfield, Va., at 10:30 a.m., immediately followed by a funeral Mass celebrating her life at 11:30 a.m. Donations in memory of Mary Jean can be made to the Alzheimer’s Association.

“May those that love us, love us - and those that don’t love us, may God turn their hearts, and if He can’t turn their hearts, may He turn their ankles so we will know them by their limp.”