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Ex-Councilman Steven Ross remembered as man ‘who gave so much to our community’

Updated September 20, 2022 - 11:41 pm

Steven Dale Ross was a Las Vegas city councilman, a mayor pro tem, a man of faith, a master electrician and an auto racing fan.

He was also a husband, father and grandfather to 15 grandchildren.

“If you came out today to watch a large, bald and bearded man cry like a little girl, you are in luck,” said one of his sons, Matt Ross, who spoke at Tuesday’s funeral for his late father, who died at 59 on Sept. 8.

With funny anecdotes punctuating emotional remembrances, three of Ross’ five grown children each fought back tears while sharing their thoughts about their dad.

“Fifty-nine years is too short, it’s true,” said another of Ross’ sons, John Labate, 37, adding that it was also indisputable that his dad made good use of that time, cramming a lot of life and work into his years.

Ross died at home after his health problems mounted in his final days, Labate said in an interview.

After contracting silicosis, a lung disease, as a result of working as an electrician at the Nevada Test Site, Ross had undergone a liver transplant in April 2022, Labate said.

After experiencing complications from the transplant, Ross’ kidneys also began to fail and his health declined rapidly before he ultimately succumbed, Labate said.

‘Kindness, grace and loyalty’

Hundreds of people, including Mayor Carolyn Goodman, came out to the Palm Northwest Mortuary chapel to pay their respects and remember the three-term councilman.

“Steve Ross was a beautiful man of great kindness, grace and loyalty who gave so much to our community, his religion and his beloved family,” Goodman said after the funeral.

Labate also spoke of Ross’ commitment to the community.

“He was obviously a person who cared a lot about the people in his community,” Labate said. “He grew up here and wanted to make it better.”

There were also large displays of flowers and a long table adorned with family pictures and auto racing memorabilia. At the front of the chapel was Ross’ closed casket, a plain wooden box. Ross had wanted that simplicity, Labate said.

Ross was also a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. During the service, his grandchildren sang the Mormon hymns “I Am a Child of God” while his grandsons also performed “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief.”

Ross represented Las Vegas’ Ward 6 starting in 2005. He ran for mayor in 2011, when Goodman was first elected, lost a primary challenge to Clark County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick in 2016, and termed out of his Ward 6 council seat in 2017. Ward 6 is now represented by Michele Fiore, who beat Ross’ wife, Kelli, in a battle for that seat in 2017.

During his term, voters tried to recall Ross from office twice. The first effort, in 2011, failed to gather enough signatures. The second effort led to a special election in January 2012, which Ross won handily, defeating a single opponent with 70 percent of the vote.

‘He would do anything for anybody’

Ross was also mayor pro tem, which means he would fill in when the mayor is absent or unavailable, or would become mayor if the office were to become vacant.

Adopted daughter Jessica Larsen shared an anecdote from her father’s last days in which he mentioned he had something “super important” to tell her, but when she asked what it was, he had fallen asleep and had a nap. The story sparked laughter about the hard-working Ross, and Larsen joked that he was probably going to tell her she was his favorite child.

“I am so grateful for a father who loved me and gave me all the tools I needed to succeed in life,” Larsen said.

Later on, Kelli Ross said all of his kids were his favorites.

“Steve was my best friend,” she told the mourners. “He was my reason for getting up in the morning and smiling. He would do anything for anybody. If there’s anything he could ask of you guys, he would say, ‘Go out and do something good.’”

Contact Brett Clarkson at bclarkson@reviewjournal.com or 561-324-6421. Follow @BrettClarkson_ on Twitter.

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