East Chop has lost one of its grand old men. Wallace Craig Ross died in Vero Beach, Fla., on August 23. He was 90 years old.
Wally attended Cornell University and eventually graduated in 1949. His college career was interrupted by World War II when he volunteered for the 10 Mountain Division in the U.S. Army. Trained in Colorado under harsh winter conditions on skis, he was eventually sent to Italy where he and his comrades chased the Germans out of the Italian Alps. While in the Army he started a band and played the bass and French horn, arranged scores and served as leader.
After a brief stint in public relations after the war, Wally purchased a struggling sail-making company in the early 1950s. Through hard work and the sound business sense to change from cloth to Dacron sails, Hard Sails became one of the leading sail-making companies in the country. Some of his employees went on to become well-known in the sailing/racing world.
As an adjunct to Hard Sails, Wally started Seaboard Marine, which manufactured fittings for the America’s Cup boats in the 1960s. He sailed on many of those boats and became a first class racer in his own right. After he sold both Hard Sails and Seaboard Marine in the late 1960s, he wrote a book, Sail Power, with help from Carl Chapman. The book was published by Knopf in 1975.
Following the publication of his book, he was involved in two additional maritime ventures. He started Tortola Yacht Charters in the British Virgin Islands, which was acquired by Guinness in 1982. His last marine venture was Ross Marine, Inc., which financed and built the popular 23 foot day racer the Sonar.
When Ross Marine was sold in 1991, Wally retired with his wife Jean to The Moorings in Vero Beach, Fla., and their beautiful home on East Chop Drive. In retirement, he helped organize the Moorings Yacht Club in 1992 and was an early Commodore. During his years in Florida he was an avid golfer and organized a group of male golfers into a popular Wally Ball tournament. While on the Vineyard, Wally served as a judge for the Edgartown Yacht Club race committee for many years.
Wally was a member of the East Chop Beach and Yacht Club, the East Chop Tennis Club, the New York Yacht Club, the Coral Reef Yacht Club, the Edgartown Yacht Club, the Norton Yacht Club, and the Cruising Club of America. With his interest in medicine, his talent as a musician, his writing ability and his sailing achievements, Wally was a true “renaissance man.”
He is survived by his wife, Jean, and two step children, Douglas Bora of Darien, Conn., and Carolyn Bora Gould of Concord, Mass. Memorial gifts may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, 2500 5th Ave, Suite 150, Vero Beach FL 32960.