Robert Wendell Ross was born in Little Rock on April 3, 1941, to Frank and Hilma Hill Ross, and went home to be with his Savior in Fort Smith on Nov. 8, 2017. At an early age, Wendell heard the call of the Lord on his life and became the youngest ordained minister in the State of Arkansas at the age of 16. His junior year in high school he was elected as both Governor of Arkansas Boys State and Student Body President for Little Rock Central High School. However, Central High School was closed for the 1958-1959 school year by Governor Faubus, so he transferred to Baptist High School where he graduated in the summer of 1959. Wendell attended Ouachita Baptist University where he graduated in 1963 with a degree in psychology. While attending OBU, he met the love of his life, Joy Schneider, and they married at First Baptist Church in Fort Smith on July 20, 1963. After graduating from Ouachita, he attended the University of Arkansas Medical School and completed a residency in family medicine at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas. While in medical school, Wendell joined the Air Force ROTC and upon completing his residency, he did a one-year tour of duty in Vietnam as a flight surgeon. Following his honorable discharge from the Air Force, he joined a family practice in El Campo, Texas, where he practiced for five years before moving to Fort Smith and joining the Holt Krock Clinic. He practiced family medicine with Drs. Kutait, Lilly, Ingram and Pillstrom until he moved to Van Buren and founded the Cornerstone Family Clinic. He practiced at that clinic for 28 years before retiring in 2011. Shortly before his retirement, he established the Memory Lane Alzheimer’s Care Unit in association with the Van Buren First Assembly of God Church. Wendell was honored by his profession in 2001, by being named “Family Doctor of the Year” by the Academy of Family Physicians, and he served as the Chief of Staff for Summit Hospital for several years before his retirement. Wendell was very involved in the community and his church. He served on the Arkansas Oklahoma Rodeo and Fair Board, actively supported Ducks Unlimited, contributed to and advised the Community Rescue Mission, developed and taught the Community Bible Class at First Baptist Church Van Buren, and served as a deacon most of his adult life. He also served on the Board of Trustees of Ouachita Baptist University and Williams Baptist College. He loved the outdoors, and was an avid duck hunter, fisherman, and was a proud fan of the Arkansas Razorbacks.
He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Joy; and his three children, Robin DeLay and her husband Gunner, Wrenne Gillson and her husband Rob, and son Michael. He was the proud grandparent of eight grandchildren, Taylor DeLay, Gunner DeLay Jr. and his wife Britta, Caroline DeLay, Suzanna DeLay, Alexandra Gillson, Emily Gillson, Madison Ross, and Andrew Ross. He was preceded in death by parents, Frank and Hilma Ross, his brother, Darrel S. Ross and sister, Lila Ruth Reddick.
Memorial service will be Monday at 1 p.m. in the First Baptist Church of Fort Smith. Inurnment will be in the U.S. National Cemetery at noon for family and close friends. Services and cremation are under the direction of Edwards Funeral Home.
The family wishes to express their gratitude to his caregivers from Visiting Angels and PRN Medical Staffing, the doctors and staff at Health South Physical Therapy, Sparks Hospital System, Mercy Hospital and Crawford Health and Rehab for the professional care given during his six-year disability, as well as Peachtree Hospice caregivers.
Memorials can be made to First Baptist Church, Fort Smith, c/o Lottie Moon Offering.
To sign an online guestbook visit www.edwardsfuneralhome.com.