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Rose Lee Ross was fondly known as "Mama Rose" to many children.
Rose Lee Ross was fondly known as "Mama Rose" to many children. (Handout / HANDOUT)

Rose Lee Ross, a homemaker who enjoyed recording her family’s history and spending time with friends, died March 16 of cancer at Mercy Medical Center. The Mount Royal Avenue resident was 74.

The former Rosa Lee Johnson — she later changed her given name to Rose — was born in Baltimore, the daughter of Herbert Johnson, a printer, and his wife, Wilma Johnson, a homemaker.

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Raised in South Baltimore on Lee and Scott streets, she was a 1964 graduate of Southern High School, where she sang in the school choir and was a Red Cross representative. After high school, she went to work as a patient care technician at Harbor View Nursing Home and later worked for Broadway Cleaners, a dry cleaning establishment.

When she married Charles Ross, she became a stay-at-home mother and raised the couple’s two children.

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Ms. Ross, who had numerous friendships throughout South and West Baltimore, became a surrogate mother to many children, who called her “Mama Rose.” She was also known for her cooking and willingness to share what she had prepared with others.

“She was the one you could count on for her cakes and fried chicken and anything else that was on the menu of the day,” her daughter, Cassandra Ross, wrote in a biographical sketch of her mother. “She selflessly fed everyone she encountered.”

Well known in South Baltimore, Ms. Ross looked forward to the annual South Baltimore Reunion, where she caught up with old friends from Hill and Sharp streets and spent hours swapping stories of the old days.

Ms. Ross was her family’s historian and enjoyed collecting stories and remembrances that related to them.

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“She remembered, people, places and dates that helped her family and friends understand the rich history of our families,” her daughter wrote.

Ms. Ross was very family-oriented and a person who was a “good listener and provided great advice,” her daughter said.

She also liked getting dressed up and attending parties and dances with family and friends. She enjoyed crocheting, collecting jewelry and perfumes.

She was a member of Ebenezer African Methodist Church, where she sang with the choir and was a member of the usher board.

Funeral services were held Monday at the Joseph H. Brown Funeral Home in Baltimore.

In addition to her daughter, Ms. Ross is survived by her son, Kenneth Ross of Halethorpe; three brothers, Frank Johnson, Chris Johnson and Johnny Johnson, all of West Baltimore; a sister, Louise Jackson of Northwest Baltimore; four grandchildren; and two great-granddaughters. Her marriage ended in divorce.

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