Remembering a larger-than-life friend and his love of words, music

bmorem@thetribunenews.comMarch 5, 2013 

Ross Sears was a trim tab in life, a compact dynamo that moved and stabilized larger forces around him until his untimely death last spring.

Our paths first crossed at San Luis Obispo Junior High where our lockers were within spittin’ distance to each other. At the time, Ross was a little on the short side (as was I), and his infectious laugh and booming voice clinched the deal for me as friends.

As we paddled through the peer pressure of what’s arguably the lousiest time of a young person’s life, another trait in Ross emerged: his love of language.

For any reason or season, Ross could make up sentences with the oddest, yet deft, constructions that would make even the most menacing of bullies either laugh or walk away gape-mouthed. Call it a defense mechanism; call it trim tabism.

One of his phrases that’s stuck with me through the years may not sound funny on paper, but hearing Ross boom out with ever-changing accentuations, “Love you? Oh do I!!!” was so funny that dozens of 7th, 8th and even 9th graders added it to their vocabulary within a week. In essence, he was one of those people who couldn’t help but find the dry, ironic and wry in every step he took.

But what put Ross right up there in the pantheon of terrific personalities was his drumming ability. From school bands to his early foray into rock as the drummer for The Thunder Mugs (which, to put it bluntly, means an under-the-bed pot of yore used by those who didn’t want to venture to the outhouse at night), Ross was boss; he kept the beat.

Later, he attended Indiana State University, where he got his degree in musicology, which, in turn, launched a long and accolade-laden career with the San Luis Obispo Symphony as their symphony tympani-playing percussionist. And, true to his giving nature, he also shared his skills for a vast array of charitable events over the years, as well as teaching percussion at Cal Poly.

Now, if you were a friend, acquaintance or student of Ross’ — or saw his work with the symphony, or would just like to know more about him — there’s going to be a celebration honoring his life from 2 p.m. to sunset this Saturday at the Santa Margarita Community Park-Margarita Meadows, 2210 H St. Parking is limited, so it’s a good idea to carpool if you can.

Bring memories, photos of Ross to give to his family, a potluck dish to share, table service and a beverage. And, of course, there will be music, lots of music.

It’s not often that someone of Ross’ trim tab-like nature comes along in life. This is your invitation to share, enjoy and honor such a life.

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