“My father died on the porch outside on an August afternoon” is a line from one of our dad’s favorite John Prine songs, and it’s how we expected him to go. In the end, he didn’t make it to the porch, but he took his last breath at home in the company of family, just after 4 o’clock on the afternoon of Aug. 24, 2020.
He was born Mac Molen Ross on Feb. 23, 1952, to Keith and Doris Taylor Ross in Vernal, Utah. He joined the family nine months after the tragic death of his 13-year-old brother Bryce. When Mac was nine, his brother Jake died at age 21. His oldest brother Terry died in 2000. As the last surviving member of this charming bunch of jazz lovers and joke tellers, he was ready to join them again.
Mac attended elementary through high school in Vernal. Smart but not studious, he was always borrowing pencils and paper from Sandra Hatch. He was a catcher on his little league team and played football at Uintah High School with good friends Glen Downard, Derrell Stagg and Levi Smuin (his future brother-in-law). He lettered not only in football but also in typing, which he tried to keep secret. As a gas station attendant at the Vernal Save More store, he worked for Kent McCurdy (another future brother-in-law).
On July 21, 1970, Mac married Marinda Murray and finally collected on those in-laws. He gladly embraced Marinda’s parents, Penny and Rin, as well as her four brothers and four sisters — Meriel, Joe, Bob, Bill, Dave, Deanna, Saralyn, and Mary — as his own.
Mac and Marinda attended Snow College in Ephraim, where Mac acquired the study skills to equal his smarts. They both transferred to Utah State University in Logan, then moved to Chicago where Mac attended Northwestern University Dental School.
In 1979, Mac opened his dental practice in Moab with Marinda as his office manager, assistant and indispensable partner. They ran the practice together for 20 years. Dr. Ross was known as an expert, kind, and gentle dentist who didn’t forget a name or a face, and who never refused treatment to anyone who couldn’t pay. Kelly Cather, Shirley Cather, and Diane Tangren were his trusted assistants and also his best friends.
After retiring from dentistry, Mac and Marinda built and ran the Spanish Trail Shell gas station in Moab for 15 years, working side-by-side with their daughter Kelly and son Charles.
Mac was a Freemason and past master of La Sal Lodge #30. He was an El Kalah Shriner and past president of the Arches Shrine Club. He was also a skilled carpenter and drafter, a pretty good golfer and a prolific reader, often finishing a book a day, reading and smoking on the front porch in the hot sun. He went everywhere on his bike and was a friendly and familiar face for people all over Moab.
The greatest joy in his life was being a dad and grandpa. He loved and was immensely proud of his three kids — Mary (Derek), Kelly (Troy), and Charles — as well as his five kind, smart, athletic, and artistic grandkids — Maisie, Doris, Bryce, Cole, and Maria. He was also a beloved uncle to dozens of Murray family nieces and nephews.
Because Mac was usually on the front porch at the house on Opal and later on Palisade, it became a focal point for the family. Everyone, even the dogs and cats, wanted to sit outside for conversation, coffee, candy or whatever Grandpa Mac was having. He had a magnetic personality and a warmth that could only be matched by the hottest of August afternoons. His family will gather privately to lay him to rest on his forever porch at Spanish Valley Cemetery in Moab. Thanks for everything, Dad, Grandpa, Uncle Mac, Dr. Ross.