Charles Ross dies at 94; war hero made relay, steeplechase history

Charles was greeted after his first M90 steeple.

Retired Army Lt. Col. Charles G. Ross was an ironman in war and masters track who once said: “Every person is unique. Most don’t know what they can do until they try. I believe it’s better to try and fail than to not try.” Charles tried and excelled, and I’m sad to report that he’s reached the end of his record-setting career. His Georgia masters friend Lydia Woods reports that he died July 5 at age 94. “He was an amazing role model for so many of us in masters track,” she said. “He was a veteran of three wars — World War II, Korea and Vietnam (three tours). He served 31 years in the military and was inducted into the United States Army Ranger Hall of Fame at Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1997.” Andy Hecker recalled his athletic heroism at 2010 Sacramento nationals: “They were calling his name [for the triple jump] while he was still on the track doing the 10,000. When he finished the 10,000, he barely broke stride, jogging across the field to take his one attempt, literally minutes after completing our longest distance race.” Charles was the first man over 90 to finish the 2K steeple, and he holds the listed WR of 18:54.10. He formed and was part of the historic 4×1 and 4×4 relays at 2014 Winston-Salem nationals, which set the debut (and still standing) M90 world records.

Army Ranger Hall of Fame citation proved his mettle before his masters medals.

Lydia’s tribute continued:

Charles was wounded in action twice and has received numerous awards: Two Purple Hearts, the Triple Combat Infantry Badge for infantry combat in all three wars, the Silver Star, Bronze Star Medal (Oak Leaf Cluster). Charles embodies the Ranger motto, “Rangers Lead the Way.”

Charles, with cap, delighted in helping set the debut M90 WR in the 4X100 at 2014 Winston-Salem nationals.

After attending his 50th high school reunion, Charles looked around and all the athletes were out of shape and could barely walk. Charles said, “This is not for me.” So at age 70 he began running marathons.

He began competing in USA Masters Track & Field in 2007 at age 84, entering the upper distance races. But his curiosity to do other events like the long jump, high jump, shot put, etc., brought him in contact with Dr. Lydia Woods who became his best friend, teammate and coach.

They travelled together to meets around the country for seven years from 2009 to 2015. Charles qualified for 140 Ranking awards and set eight world records.

In 2012, at age 89, he was a part of the 4x200m indoor relay team that broke the world record set for (M85-89).

The last meet I find for Charles was 2015 masters indoor nationals — also in Winston-Salem. (He took silver in the 60 in 19.59.)

So he fell short of competing in masters track for 10 years. But given his productive career, I move that he be inducted into the USATF Masters Hall of Fame despite not reaching the mandatory decade’s involvement.

Do I hear a second?

Print Friendly

July 8, 2017

5 Responses

  1. tb - July 8, 2017

    We share the track with amazing people.

  2. Jeff Davison - July 8, 2017

    Prayers to his family and friends.

  3. Jeff Davison - July 8, 2017

    One other note: Charles assisted organizing several M90 relay teams.

  4. Don Burkett - July 9, 2017

    Great man and a true role model for all. Love talking to Charles at track meets about his military life. He would try any event just to see if he could do it.

  5. Ken Stone - July 9, 2017

    I sent Lydia a request for more details on Charles’ cause of death and where he was. She wrote:

    Charles was had been moved eight months ago to live in an Assisted Living Community close to his daughter in McKinney, Texas.  He had been suffering with progressive dementia for several years….once his wife died in November 2016… he lost complete memory of anyone even his wife. 14 days ago he was sent to the ER after becoming unresponsive at breakfast.  Doctors could find nothing going wrong. His heart and lungs were strong. He stopped eating  and was placed in hospice four days later…he succumbed eights after having no food or drink. On Wednesday morning, July  5th.

    If anyone wants to share stories about Charles or wants to stay in touch about Arlington National Cemetery arrangements they can contact his daughter. ..Katheryn Ross, 8801 Papa Trails, McKinney, Texas, 75070.

Leave a Reply