Dorothy Fitzgerald “Patsy” Ross, a former owner of the Roland Park-based real estate firm where she worked for 78 years, died of congestive heart failure Sept. 23 at the Blakehurst Retirement Community. She was 93 and had lived at Devon Hill on West Lake Avenue.
Born Dorothy Delano Fitzgerald in Baltimore and raised on Taplow Road, she was the daughter of Delano Jackson Fitzgerald, who headed the purchasing department for Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., and Dorothy Elizabeth Lazenby, who founded the real estate business Dorothy L. Fitzgerald Co.
She attended the Calvert School and was a 1947 Bryn Mawr School graduate. She played on the school’s badminton team and made her debut at the Bachelors Cotillon the same year.
As a 10-year-old, she worked on weekends answering the phone at her mother’s residential real estate business. She would remain at the firm as its name changed and merged for 78 years.
Over the years she assumed more roles in the business but did not like selling homes. Instead she kept the books and did the payroll and taxes.
“She did all her calculations in pencil in ledgers. This went on until the 1990s when her accountant made her use business software,” said her daughter, Carol Jackson Haigh.
“She became the backbone of the company, doing all the financial duties, including payroll, taxes, bills, banking, etc. She hated the selling part.”
Mrs. Ross was known for being organized and efficiently documenting transactions..
“My mother kept everything. If she had one of something, chances are she had 20 more just like it. She never threw anything out,” her daughter said.
Mrs. Ross went into a formal partnership with her mother. The firm went on to be known as Chase Fitzgerald and was located on the second floor of the Roland Park Shopping Center building.
She and her partners occupied the space that had belonged to the old Roland Park Co., the firm that developed the neighborhood beginning in the 1890s.
“She dressed meticulously, even when she gardened. She loved walking and would often walk to work,” her daughter said. “She was an optimist and nothing was ever wrong. She never complained and she never asked for anything or for help.”
Her grandson Delano “Del” Schmidt said: “I never heard her say a negative word about anyone or anything. She was pure positivity. She never complained.
“She came from the old school and did things that way. She had decades and decades of experience. Until the end, she answered the phone. She was humble.”
He recalled that she had her hair styled weekly.
“Even if she was walking on the beach, she had a dress on and wore flats. She spent a lot of time at the beach and I never saw her in a bathing suit,” he said.
She retired in 2017 when the company merged with O’Conor & Mooney.
Mrs. Ross also attended the Johns Hopkins University and was a member of the Johns Hopkins Club.
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She was a longtime member of Baltimore Country Club, where she played golf and belonged to the duckpin bowling team.
When she entertained, Mrs. Ross invariably served crab imperial.
“She was fiercely independent and loyal to family and friends,” her daughter said.
“She never used the first drop of sunscreen,” her daughter said. “She preferred the burn-and-peel method. She also loved cruises but hated flying.”
She married George V. Munn, a commercial mortgage broker, in 1954. After his 1972 death, she married George R. Ross Jr., who died in 1998.
Survivors include Carol Jackson Haigh of Buckingham Manor; two grandsons; and five great-grandchildren. She is also survived by two stepdaughters, Suzy McDowell of Bethesda and Peggy Duer of Towson, and two stepsons, Walter Ross of Baltimore County and Gerry Ross of Timonium. Her first marriage to William W. Jackson ended in divorce.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at St. David’s Episcopal Church at 4700 Roland Ave.