Family, Friends Remember the Life of Ankeny School Bus Driver
A funeral was held in Des Moines Wednesday for Dennis Ross, a bus driver for the Ankeny school district, who died last Friday while he was waiting to transport students back to Ankeny following a basketball game in Johnston.
Mary Ross exuded strength as she stood before family, friends and loved ones Wednesday morning and shared memories of her husband, Dennis.
Dennis Ross, 73, was an employee of Durham Transportation Services, the company that provides school bus services to the Ankeny school district. He died last Friday while waiting to transport students back to Ankeny High School following a basketball game at Johnston.
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Prior to sharing memories, Mary read her husband’s obituary for the crowd gathered at his funeral at Grace Church in Des Moines.
“It was befitting that the Lord would take him home while he was on that bus,” she said. “He loved being behind the wheel of that school bus.”
Ross was found unresponsive in the bus as the boys' team and its coaches made their way back to the bus following the game.
Multiple coaches and a student performed CPR until paramedics arrived, but Ross died at Mercy Hospital. His obituary said he died from heart-related issues.
In her reading, Mary thanked all the Ankeny coaches, cheerleaders and basketball players who were there for her husband last week.
Christmas was his favorite holiday, Mary said, and poinsettias were one of his favorite plants.
“He would come home with truckloads for me to find a place for,” she said.
Pastor Phil Winfield of Grace Church also shared memories of Dennis’ life. Winfield said being around Dennis was never boring.
“You never knew what he would say at any given moment,” Winfield said. “He loved life and he loved his family.”
Winfield said Dennis was a giving individual who loved to sing the praises of others. He also was meticulous when it came to his clothing, always making sure his outfits were pressed and neat.
To Dennis, driving his school bus was one of the most fulfilling jobs he ever had, Winfield said.
“He said he would do it even if it didn’t pay,” Winfield said. “He loved people and he loved those kids.”
A letter from a parent of one of Dennis’s students written prior to his death also appeared on the back of his funeral program. The letter was from someone who identified herself as “Andrew’s mommy.”
“It is obvious how much you care for the kids! Every time Andrew sees a bus, he says, ‘Dennis!’ He has a little school bus here at home he plays with and he always mentions you while playing. Every night he wants to include you in our prayers (he says, ‘Bless everyone in Miss Lacie’s class and bus driver Dennis!’)
I just wanted you to know what an impact you made on our son. Thank you for making his first experience at school such a memorable and special one. I am not sure if you’ll be his driver next year as he’ll be going to Ashland Ridge (Elementary School), but I certainly hope so. Andrew will miss you!”