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ROSS, George Leslie

(Georgie to his near and dear)

It is with heavy hearts that we announce the sudden passing of George Ross, age 73.

George, an unrepentant advocate for the importance of the arts in society, had a profound effect on everyone who came into his sphere. His work in the Canadian arts scene, his knowledge of a broad spectrum of disciplines – traditional to contemporary – and his many long-held friendships with singers, conductors, writers, composers, librettists, publishers, dancers, actors, directors, choreographers, recording artists, film-makers; these were the delightful makings of what became a very large life. His reach and impact was felt nationally and internationally. He was a great friend, as well as being kind, gentle, joyful, supportive, patient, very resourceful and “always there with a smile and a hug” kind of person!

George was also a family man. He was beloved partner to Sally Truss. He was brother to Heather (Jack), father to Tamara (John), Jason, and Owen (Breanna), step-father to Cassidy (Jon), Fraser (Roslyn), step-granddad to Charlie, uncle to Derek, Amanda (Ryan) and great uncle to Aidan, Chelsea, Jacob and Bailey. In the listing above one sees a thoroughly modern family making it important to note that Clarice McCord is mother to Tamara and Jason, Sara Norquay is mother to Owen, and Gordon Dobson is father to Fraser and Cassidy. Predeceased by his father Les, mother Marina and step-mother Mavis, of Courtenay, BC where he was raised, his ties remained strong even after he left to attend UBC.

Since age 6, George actively performed as a singer, actor and pianist, training with Sid Williams in Courtenay at an early age before being offered an Opera scholarship at UBC. He graduated with a Masters in Music (Voice), a review of his thesis performance in 1969 states “Ross as a performer has the ability to project character, and shows a strong sense of theatre. Ross sang large roles using his light, pleasing tenor voice with intelligence and flexibility.” George acted, sang and directed throughout his entire life, the day before his passing he performed in Candide at the Banff Centre. But it was his time ‘behind the scenes’ that had the greatest impact on the Arts in Canada.

Through the 1970’s George’s summers were spent camping on Tunnel Mountain with his family while production managing, stage managing, coordinating, and directing for the Opera program at the Banff Centre. During the winters, he was a freelance stage director and stage manager with opera companies in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Seattle, Portland and Winnipeg. In 1978 George and family moved to Banff full-time when he became manager of Theatre Arts, retiring in 2004 from the position of Associate Director, Operations, Theatre Arts.

In between all that work he toured the continent on his “motorbyke”, more than a few times, camping his way through the Opera festival and theatre circuit of North America. Not one to retire, George took on consulting and among other things, managed Lunchbox Theatre and with Sally he co-managed Sage Theatre. He sang in the Calgary Opera chorus and became an extra in TV series’ Hell on Wheels, Heartland, Tin Star, and Fargo.

George stage managed his own life beautifully, and after this final curtain call, we know he is backstage on the loading dock enjoying a beer with the cast and crew at his wrap party. It was truly a life well lived.

A celebration of George’s life will be held at Calgary’s Pumphouse Theatres, Thursday, July 26th at 7:00 PM, who have generously given us a home for this celebration, followed by a pot-luck dinner in the Joyce Doolittle Theatre – so bring along some food to share! Additionally, an informal celebration of life will be held Saturday, September 8th at 2:00 PM in the Margaret Greenham Theatre at the Banff Centre followed by a loading dock reception.

George’s expressed wish was for everyone to participate in any way in any arts related event, including film. You are also invited to give a tax-deductible donation to Sally and George’s fund for emerging artists at the Calgary Foundation. The “Truss & Ross Fund” to help artists do cool stuff is now online and can be directly accessed through the link below. All donations great and small are appreciated! https://payment.csfm.com/donations/calgaryfoundation/?fund=ROSSG Cheques are also accepted, made payable to the Calgary Foundation, indicating in the memo section “Truss & Ross Fund” and mailed to: Calgary Foundation, 1180 – 105 12 Ave SE, Calgary, AB, T2G 1A1.

Offer Condolence for the family of ROSS, George Leslie

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Condolence Messages

  1. Carol Holmes :

    A sad loss of a very great man, he will be missed, special thoughts to Tamara, Jason, and Sally

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  2. Laird Mackintosh :

    Very sorry to hear this news. Warm memories of Mr. Ross’ kindness & guidance when I was a student at the Banff Centre. Deepest sympathy to Tamara & family.
    Laird Mackintosh

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  3. Will miss George so much. Always a treat to have in the Chorus. Love and strength to the family.

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  4. Jean Mackie :

    I am very sorry for your loss.
    George was my cousin-his father was one of my mother’s cherished older brothers. Some of my earliest memories are of visiting his family in Courtenay. His mother Marina was a very gracious hostess. I also remember mom taking us to hear George sing in Vancouver when he was chosen as a boy to tour with the Elgar choir. Several years ago he stopped by for a visit with me in Nanaimo. I know you will all miss him.

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  5. Julian & Caroline :

    We are so sorry for your loss.

    Julian first met George in Houston nearly 20 years ago at an Opera America Conference.

    We were both totally delighted to get to know him ( and Sally ) a wee bit better whilst working at the Banff Centre. My wife and I enjoyed seeing him appear in the Calgary Opera chorus and again a guest star in the Banff opera programme. Always full of life and happiness whatever twists and turns were happening. He will be fondly and sadly missed.

    Lots of love and joy to the extended Ross family ( and all his friends )

    Julian and Caroline in Toronto

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  6. Gerard Roxburgh :

    George was a giant of a man and lived and loved as such. He was a sage guide and influence to me personally early on in my career and many summers at the Banff Centre.

    My condolences and love to all.

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  7. Jeanne LeSage :

    I will always remember George sitting in his office in Theatre Arts pouring over budgets and financials while belting out opera – always bursting out in a smile for you and always taking the time to talk, give advice, and encourage. As a young arts manager at the time, it was so wonderful to talk to him.

    Until that time of the day hit – “I gotta go make dinner for my kids!” (And watch Jeopardy…)

    Much love to the family XOXO

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  8. Paul Chambers :

    His influence was great yet done with kindness and that big smile. A wonderful example for us all. My sincerest condolences, Tamara and John.

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  9. Albert Krywolt :

    My deepest sympathy to all George’s family and friends. George was a wonderful person who brought so much joy and love into the world, I am heartbroken to know he has passed on to another existence, wherever he might be it will be a better place. He certainly changed mine and will never be forgotten.

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  10. Robert Rombough :

    My memories have to include George’s explosive laugh. Especially his uncanny ability to punctuate both theatrical success or disaster with a resounding “HA, ha!”, which could mean “well done” or “time to get back at it”, depending on the circumstances. My time with George was always about possibilities.
    Sally, Tamara, so wonderful to have shared George’s spirit with you and so sorry for your loss.

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  11. Mariana Shackleton :

    So sorry for your Loss Tamara. But you are certainly following in his footsteps.

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  12. Condolences to George’s family and friends. Working alongside George at the Banff Centre I witnessed his passion for the arts. George was always fun to be with and I will always remember his booming laugh. He will be missed.

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  13. Janet Anderson :

    What heartbreaking news to hear about George’s passing. He was such a passionate believer in the arts and the kindest person. He was a wonderful boss, mentor and friend who had a huge influence on my (and many others) careers. I’m so sorry we won’t be seeing him in September but look forward to sharing many stories with old friends and colleagues when we gather together at that time. My condolences to Tamara, Jason, Sally and all his family and friends.

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  14. Tamara, Jason and family,
    So sorry to hear of your Dads passing. Many memories of him leading Christmas songs, with his beautiful voice, at the annual school concert. Our thoughts are with you and we wish you peace.

    Lisa Cuell

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  15. Steven Thomas :

    Many wonderful thoughts flood through my mind recalling the friendship I had with George working in the world of Canadian opera especially back in the 70s and 80s. I particularly recall the great summers in the mid 80s working at Colin Graham’s opera projects at the Banff Centre and our tradition of ‘manic Monday’ evenings tipping a couple solving the problems of the world, while listening to a little Country n Western for something completely different.
    I’m sure George will be a valuable asset to opera and theatre in the next world. He’s that kind of guy.

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  16. Rebecca levant :

    Sally, my deepest sympathy to you on the loss of your dear husband. May your loving memories help sustain you in the future.

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  17. Tamara, Jason and the rest of the family. I read this with fond memories of George and the support he gave me in my time at the Banff Centre. I could always look to him for kindness and clarity. My deepest condolences. I can’t be there in person for the celebration in September but I will be there in spirit.

    Much love,

    Tasia

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  18. marianne.doherty :

    Sally my thoughts and prayers are with you at this time I remember George’s work at Banff Centre, he was greatly admired by the technical people he worked with on his team.May he rest in peace.

    Marianne Doherty

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  19. Jason and Rhonda Howard :

    Dear Tamara and family. Rhonda and I were saddened to hear of your loss. I must say though that was one of the most amazing obituaries I have ever read. What a full life! We remember the stories you told us about him. A remarkable man. May he Rest In Peace. Howie and Rhonda

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  20. Eyes twinkling, voice resounding, cup in hand at our family gatherings. How blessed we were to be part of his joy and love. He taught us so much through his actions. We are honoured to have been in his presence and send our support to his family with open arms. Love is a verb. George knew it and now it is our job to echo his mission.

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  21. Susan Bennett :

    Dear Sally and Tamara: Oh so sorry to hear about George’s passing. Sally, you obviously wrote this beautiful passage about him and it was a joy to read. He was a man of such depth and breadth. My heart goes out to you.
    Susan Bennett

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  22. Sally and Tamara,
    George lived well but too short. My thoughts and sympathies are with you both. If there’s anything I can offer to support you through this time, do let me know.
    Sincere sympathies,
    Pat Ruby

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  23. Donna Goodhand :

    Donna Goodhand
    July 23, 2018
    My condolences and loving thoughts to George’s loved ones and friends. I met George when working at The Banff Centre and enjoyed his company there over the years. He was always kind and generous – a joyful, loving, welcoming and helpful presence. I feel lucky to have had the honour of his professional friendship throughout those wonderful years in the mountains. Special times. Special man. Sad to see him go.

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  24. Valerie Planche :

    I am so very sorry for your loss. Our loss. I loved your George very much. He made me feel included as a young artist in Banff. Sally and George helped me feel like I had a voice as an artist. His advice was always thoughtful and incredibly helpful. Big love to you Sally and to his children, biological and those of us in the Theatre. He will be truly missed. xoxoxo

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  25. Betty & Dave Rutherford :

    Our thoughts and prayers to George’s sister Heather & Jack, their family Derek [Chelsea & Aidan], Amanda & Ryan [Bailey & Jacob] and to All the family. We knew George prior to his illustrious career that is beautifully laid-out in this loving obituary.
    Well done George~It was a pleasure to have known you…
    Sincere Sympathies,

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  26. Kathleen Flaherty :

    George was one of the sweetest men I ever met – a friend after only a couple of meetings, welcomed into his circle of warmth. He will never leave us.

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  27. I have the happiest memories of George at Banff, when my husband Martin Isepp directed the Academy of Singing and Mary Morrison was Vocal consultant. George was a great support in very way, organiser and director of fun and a shrewd observer and assessor of the program and the developing talent. Very warm wishes to their family in their loss. Hopefully, George and Martin are enjoying a beer together on a deck on a higher plane. Rose Isepp

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  28. George was a wonderful, caring, and kind man. I always looked forward to seeing him and sharing motorcycle stories (we both drove) and then also our shared love of the arts! My love and condolences to Sally who was a great caring partner to an extra ordinary man whose presence will be sorely missed. Always a kind word was his first reaction when meeting.
    Thank you George for being a positive
    example to so many!

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  29. Sandra Atkinson :

    Sandy and Ernie Atkinson
    We were so shocked to hear of George’s passing. We have known him for it seems a lifetime.Our summers in Banff with the Opera Dept. and the many operas he sang with my chorus at Calgary Opera.He always was a positive,warm,outgoing and true friend.Whose love of opera and all the arts rubbed off on all who knew him.Also his smile and generosity of spirit will be truly missed.
    Our condolences to his entire family especially Tamara,Jason,Sally and Clarice

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  30. David Speers and family :

    To the Family and Friends of George !

    Truly one in a million ….. Please know how much he was loved, admired and respected by everyone who came into his life. His compassion, integrity, humour … and most of all, his irrepressible enthusiasm for Life, meant so much to so many, and I am humbled to be have been among that group for over 45 years ! George inspired me to follow my dream, and because of that, I owe him the wonderful life with which I have been blessed. Thank you, dear George. You will live on forever in our hearts and memories ………

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  31. Doreen marzin :

    My prayers and thoughts go out to his children and family. I have know George since his UBC days and have followed his successful career through my friend, his sister (Heather) over the years. Sincerest sympathies.
    Doreen Marzin

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  32. Marian Hood :

    So sorry to hear of George’s death. I remember him best as the padre in the Banff Centre production of Man of la Mancha in 1975. Although he was onstage in this one he was always willing to give me (the relatively green SM) helpful hints. I remember him with fondness.

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  33. Richard & Phoebe Heyman :

    We just heard about George’s death this afternoon. What a shame to lose such a lovely man. Unfortunately we are on Vancouver Island and unable to attend his celebration at the Pumphouse. We remember meeting George for the first time in 1977 when I was in the Banff Opera Programme production of La Boheme and he was stage manager. What a delight he was to work with. Needless to say he will be sorely missed by all whose lives he ever touched. We wish Sally all his family our deepest sympathies.

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  34. Jorge Aviles :

    Allow me to celebrate George’s life with you. During the many wonderful years I spent in the world of Opera, George brought a refreshing sense of “normalness” to the stage; and made me feel more appreciated for wanting to be an artist without feeling like I had to fit in. The Canadian stage is a much richer place because of him!

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  35. Averil Cook :

    Dear Sally and family, I was so sorry to learn of George’s passing. I knew him for a good many years with his singing in the opera chorus, a very valued member. We will miss you George.

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  36. To all of George’s family, but especially to Sally, Clarice, Jason & Tamara (the ones I know personally), I send my heartfelt condolences on the loss of a truly memorable person. He definitely had a huge impact on many aspects of the arts in Canada, and his tireless advocacy will not be forgotten. However, it’s as a loving, mischievous, fun-loving friend that many of us will remember George. George & I were students in Music at UBC together: we sang & toured the country with various UBC vocal ensembles, played bridge and drank too much on school nights, and forged a friendship that has lasted decades. One summer I worked at the Banff Centre and he generously invited me to stay in his home there. I fondly remember that while George, a great cook, was making dinner, “Wheel of Fortune” was always on the kitchen TV; every time a question was asked of the contestants, he’d yell “TOILET” as the answer. Quirky, full of fun, a man among men, and a friend among friends: dear George, I’m so glad I knew you.

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  37. Carol Bellefeuille :

    Sally – My deepest condolences to you and your family. It was another lifetime when I was young and impressionable (though pretending my hardest that I wasn’t) all those years ago in Banff. I’m glad I had the opportunity to know you and George, even for a brief time. As I think about it now, I’d like to thank you both for being the role models I didn’t know I needed – the zest for life, love of the arts and a great love story.

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  38. Bonni Baynton :

    I was fortunate enough to have had a little chat with George before he went onstage for his final sing on this earth. He’s still singing!
    Rest in peace dear George.

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  39. Dr. Mary Morrison :

    My sincere condolences to Tamara, Jason and Sally. Remembering so fondly the warm, generous, fun George…our rock in the Golden Years of the Academy of Singing and the Opera programs.

    Dr. Mary Morrison O.C.

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  40. Olwyn Lewis :

    Sending loving thoughts to Tam, Jason and family- I remember George so well; he helped me in my opera stage managing career, and I remember much laughter, and way too many beers with him – all wonderful memories. Sending love, Olwyn xo

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  41. Ilana Hampton :

    My deepest condolences. He sounds like a wonderful man and an amazing artist. I never met him but I know his step daughter Cassidy. What an extraordinary life!

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  42. Claude Schryer :

    Condolences to family and friends. I have many fond memories of George in Banff. RIP.

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