Ross Gillett has always lived life on his terms. Born in 1934 in Petrolia near Sarnia and raised in London, Ontario, Ross knew at a young age he wanted to do work that excited and challenged him. His first calling was to be a draftsman and so he attended Beal Tech in London and graduated with a diploma in drafting architecture. He changed course slightly after graduating to become a land surveyor but fate intervened.
When he was just 18 years old, Ross was hit by a car while waiting on the corner and ended up head first into a fire hydrant. He suffered five fractures in his ankles up to his knees and spent nine months in a London hospital.
"I couldn't do land surveying after my accident so I had to change course again," Ross recalls. "I went back to Beal Tech as a special student and took mechanical drafting that led to my first job with Sparton of Canada, which makes different types of radios."
In 1952, Ross married his sweetheart Barbara and together they raised two boys and two girls.
An ad in the paper changed his career trajectory. "I saw an ad in London for an assistant traffic coordinator. I ended up working for the City of London in that capacity for 11 years."
Building on the success of his work in London, Ross was hired by the City of Sarnia as Traffic Coordinator, a post he held for three years until he and his family moved to Niagara Falls when he took a job as Supervisor Traffic Services for the Region of Niagara where he worked for 18 years.
During his career, Ross earned several awards and recognition for his work and his community service.
He became a member of the Ontario Drafting Council and served for a time as its president and received the Order of Niagara for his community service in the Anglican church.
In 1999, Ross was named Senior of the Year in the City of Niagara Falls.
But he is most proud of his receiving the Niagara Engineering Award of Merit. "I am, to my knowledge, the only recipient of this award who is not an engineer."
Ross and Barbara were married for 61 years and she was the first of the couple to move into Mary Bucke after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Ross soon followed and the couple lived together in the home for a year and a half until she sadly passed away.
Ross is surrounded by memories and mementos of a life well-lived. His eldest daughter lives in St. Thomas and visits him often. Ross says he loves living at the home.
"The staff are very good and so is the food," he quips.
Among the memories that adorn his wall, Ross cherishes a more recent photograph of the couple in 2015 aboard a cruise ship docked in the port of Leningrad.
"We promised ourselves when we retired we would take a cruise and I am glad we were able to do that."