Dr. Ross Gregory, professor of History, died on February 10, 2017. He was 83.
Born on February 11, 1933, in Montgomery, Indiana, a rural area south of Indianapolis, Ross was one of six sons. After serving in the U.S. Army in Europe from 1954 to 1956, Dr. Gregory benefited from the G.I. Bill and earned his B.A. in 1959, his M.A. in 1961, and his Ph.D. in 1964 from Indiana University in Bloomington. His dissertation was on “The Ambassadorship of Walter Page.” At IU, he worked with Robert H. Ferrell, one of the country’s preeminent American diplomatic historians. Dr. Gregory’s dissertation was published in 1970 by the University Press of Kentucky and titled Walter Hines Page: Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s. The book, focusing on the U.S. ambassador to Great Britain from 1913 to 1918, won the Frederick Jackson Turner Award from the Organization of American Historians, one of the OAH’s most prestigious book prizes.
Dr. Gregory’s first teaching position was at West Virginia Institute of Technology in Montgomery from 1963 to 1966. He then joined Western Michigan University’s Department of History in 1966. He earned the rank of associate professor in 1969 and full professor in 1973. After thirty-eight years of service to WMU, he retired in 2004. Ross’ areas of teaching and research focused on twentieth-century U.S. diplomatic and domestic history as well as modern East Asian history. In addition to Walter Hines Page, he published four other books: The Origins of American Intervention in the First World War (W.W. Norton, 1971); America 1941: Nation at the Crossroads (Free Press, 1989); Almanacs of American Life: Modern America 1914-1945 (Facts on File, 1995); and Almanacs of American Life: Cold War America 1945-1990 (Facts on File, 2003). The Origins of American Intervention in the First World War remains in print. During its first twenty-six years in print, the book sold more than 25,000 copies.
In addition to other university, college, and departmental service, Ross was one of the original members of the Department of History’s Burnham Macmillan History Endowment, which started in 1974, and was chair of the Endowment from 1996 to 2004. Ross was also quite active as a mentor to many of the department’s graduate students. He chaired four doctoral dissertations, including the first student to receive a Ph.D. in History from WMU, Charles T. Johnson. Dr. Johnson is now professor of History at Valdosta State University in Georgia.
Dr. Gregory is survived by his wife, Shirley; three children: Theresa, Graham, and Darren; and one granddaughter.