James F. Ross (1927–2007)

Jim Ross, who died in May at the age of 79, was on the masthead of this magazine from the very first issue in March 1975 until the issue you hold in your hand, originally as consulting editor and then as a member of the editorial advisory board. This is not simply a sign of longevity. It is a sign, first, of courage: He was willing to be associated with BAR even though, when we began, the archaeological establishment both in the United States and Israel was highly skeptical (some remain so) and nervous about letting in an uncontrollable outsider. Jim was a no­nonsense guy who believed in our mission and had no fear of standing up and saying so—even though he himself was a highly regarded member of the American archaeological establishment. Jim was his own man.

Jim spent most of his long career at Virginia Theological Seminary, from which he retired in 1996. He was a distinguished teacher and archaeologist, whose booming voice commanded respect—and interest. He always had stimulating suggestions for the magazine, many of which turned into articles. He was not simply a supporter, but an adviser and friend, especially when he was most needed.

James F. Ross was born in 1927 and grew up in the ­Midwest. He received his doctorate in theology from Union Theological Seminary in New York and was an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. He participated in archaeological excavations at Shechem, Caesarea and Gezer, where he served as area supervisor and, for one year, as archaeological director. Joe Seger, who years later served in the same position at the Gezer dig, called him “my guru.” Ross also contributed to excavation reports.

Ross’s first wife, Miriam, died in 1996. He is survived by his wife, Joyce Gillard, three children and five grandchildren.—H.S.

Published in BAR, September/October 2007)

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