Johnny Lee Ross, 62, went home to be with the Lord on Thursday, September 28, 2023.
His light came into this world of August 13, 1961, in Magnolia, Mississippi to his beloved mother, Georgia Pearl Smithers (Coney) (deceased) and father, Thomas Ross (deceased). Johnny and his brother Charles Edward Ross (deceased) were raised and loved by Henry Cecil Smithers. They were joined by little sister, Roxann Sherri Smithers.
Johnny moved to Ohio as a child, first settling with his mother and brother in Ravenna, Ohio. He spent most of his life in Akron, Ohio where he was a well-known resident. Johnny was a star athlete and scholar at Buchtel High School. As a young man, Johnny served in the Army even though he did not take kindly to taking orders. Johnny came full circle and spent the last twenty-three (23) years living on the same street where he grew up–only a stone’s throw from Buchtel.
Johnny spent almost thirty (30) years working at the Akron Urban League as the Facilities Manager. He made a host of friends and was dedicated to the organization. But Johnny was best known around town for his lawn care business and all-around handyman services. There are very few lawns in the Akron area that have not received the Johnny Ross Special. Even as a child, Johnny was a hard worker and had an entrepreneurial spirit. Family members recall him collecting bags of cans and bottles bigger than him in order to earn a little money. He passed that work ethic down and several of his kids worked with him. They learned hard work and the value of a dollar one lawn at a time.
When Johnny was not working everyone knew where to find him—fishing. If the bluegills, perch, or bass were swimming, Johnny was there to catch them. Before his mother passed, Johnny would stop by her house at any time with a fresh catch and ready for an impromptu fish fry. If the fish were not running, then Johnny would surely be on the grill. He definitely inherited his mother’s cooking skills. He also inherited her ability to sing and added his own love of playing music. His keyboard was a staple. At every celebration, Johnny could be found on the dance floor spreading joy.
Johnny Lee Ross left us far too soon. He still had many relationships to build and days to enjoy. He is survived by his children, Andre Marshall, Damion Hunt, Johnny-Lee Isaiah Smith, Moses Smith (Esther), Chardae Chatman, Adriene Ross, and Damiya Long; grandchildren, Kyleigh Martin, Damion Hunt II, Azura Hunt, Moses Smith, Martha Smith, Miriam Smith, Malachi Smith, Cartier Gordon, Carter Gordon, Cassius Gordon, Casmere Gordon, and Alijah Elmon Chappell; father, Henry Cecil Smithers (Irene); sister, Roxann Sherri Smithers; sister-in-law, niece and nephew, Rose Ross, Diana Lynn Ross, and Charles Edward Ross; aunts and uncle, Dorothy Draine (Robert), Mary Smithers (Frank), John Wayne Ross (Margie), Rosella Payne (Arthur), and Mary Caples; a host of cousins and grand-nieces, and a whole community of friends and customers.
Although he may be gone physically, Johnny Lee Ross loved many and was loved by a multitude. He will never leave our hearts or our memories.
Acknowledgements from the Family of Johnny L. Ross
Our family is overcome with gratitude for the love, kindness, and support we have been shown. A heartfelt Thank You to friends and family members who have lifted us up during such trying times. You made calls, you made donations, you made food, but most of all you made a very difficult time just a bit little easier. Special thanks to Rev Bowden, Cecilia Hudson, Ora Lee Dunn, Coach Mike Buckner, Misty and the Urban League crew, Dave Smooth, Tysha Ross Lang and the Ross/Coney family, Cynthia Smithers, Gwen Daniels, Shunnah Tyler, and everyone known and unknown. If we have missed anyone, please charge it to our heads and not our hearts.