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Chester County Press

Oxford Resident to Celebrate Her Centennial Birthday

09/09/2020 08:08PM ● By Richard L. Gaw

On the morning of Oct. 15, Barbara Ross will wake up in her Oxford home in much the same fashion as she has in that town since she first became a resident there in the 1940s -- with one exception.

On that day, the sun will rise on what will be her 100th birthday -- a monumental milestone for anyone who is able to reach that magic year, but an event that Ross is shaking off as just another day.

“I really don’t think it’s such a big deal,” she said. “It’s just another number, isn’t it?”

Born on Oct. 15, 1920 in California, Pa., Ross moved to Oxford in March 1943 as the new bride of Wilmer C. “Web” Hosler. There, the Hoslers raised their son, Will.

Following her husband’s tragic death in the war, Ross eventually married Ewing Ross, and lived on the Ross farm where they raised Ewing’s son, Larry.

In between, Ross embarked on a life of hard work, dedication, sacrifice and community.

At 55, she began selling Avon products door to door. On her first day on the job, she knocked on the door of the first house she visited, and was promptly yelled at and had the door slammed in her face.

Undaunted, Ross walked back to her car, composed herself, and walked to the next house.

“That led to a 35-year career selling Avon, becoming a member of the President’s Club, and also being able to feed her family and pay the mortgage,” said Donna Hosler Charlton, one of Ross’ three grandchildren. “Our family has become a line of entrepreneurs, and it all comes handed to down to us from Gmom.”

When she wasn’t busy enough selling Avon products, Ross also worked at the Oxford Diner on the weekends, and also baby sat for several families in Oxford.

Over the years, several residents in the Oxford community have also seen Ross’ spirit of generosity. She recently donated funding to create the Oxford Memorial Playground, and for many years, has crocheted blankets for the Eli Seth Matthews Leukemia Foundation, Inc.’s “Packages of Love” initiative. In the last ten years, she has made and donated more than 600 blankets to the foundation, which are then given to children living with Leukemia.

“My grandmother has had some tough challenges over the years, but she managed to make things work and hold her family together,” said Charlton, whose father Will was diagnosed with spina bifida when he was born. “She knows how it feels to be a young, working mother trying to make ends meet. When she heard about that playground project, she loved the idea that parents would now be able to take all of their children to a playground and have them all play together – regardless of what their needs are.”

“It’s wonderful to have seen what she has been able to make for the folks who need blankets and other crocheted items over the years,” Larry added.

Within the grand sweep of the last American century, the timeline of Ross’s life intersects generously with our nation’s history. She was born right after the last pandemic and became a teenager during the Great Depression. She was a new bride and mother at the beginning of World War II and by the war’s conclusion, she found herself widowed and having to raise and support two sons by herself. She has also lived through the failures and achievements of 18 U.S. presidents, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War, the Iraqi War, several economic downturns and is now, on the eve of her 100th birthday, living through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The breadth of her life’s resiliency now manifests itself in the small goals she has set for herself. She would like to continue to enjoy the company of three grandchildren, and see her 11-year-old great grandson graduate from high school.

“What else is there to do? You either give up or you keep going,” she said. “I’m not ready to give up yet.

“I’m just glad to get out of bed every morning, to see one day fall into the other, and to be able to enjoy each day,” she added. “Honestly, I never thought about becoming 100 until the kids started yapping about it. Pretty soon, I’m going to have start thinking about being old.”


To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email rgaw@chestercounty.com.