At an age when most people are receiving calls from deacons, Don Ross, 90, is still making them. He has a secret for making those calls. "I get them to laugh," he said. It's hard to feel bad or worried or fearful when you're laughing.
Direct and outspoken, Don has a way of reaching people with his ready smile and bright blue eyes. When Ruth Adolph was recuperating at Living Center West following shoulder surgery, Don visited her regularly. He wanted to see how she was doing and if she needed anything. Well, yes, she needed Don to check on her husband Ralph. She was worried that he might not be eating. Don made the call and was able to assure Ruth that all was well on the home front.
Her concern for Ralph brings up one of Don's biggest concerns. "We need to have something for the caregivers," he said. He notes that his contemporaries at church often exhaust themselves caring for a loved one.
The deacons primary work is giving care to members of the church who need it. They take meals to people who are ill and help them stay connected to the church when they are no longer able to attend.
Don thinks deacons can help bring the generations of the church together. Instead of segregating ourselves into age groups, the congregation needs to reach out more to younger people. Don points out that for him that's almost everyone in the church.
Recently he was asked to sing in a men's quartet for worship. The group was comprised of Don, Ken Kerby, who is younger than Don, Peter Jauhiainen, who is in his 40s, and Elikem Fiase, who is in his 20s. It was wonderful, Don said. "We need to do more activities that bring different ages together."
Caring for people comes naturally to Don. "I learned it from Mother," he said, referring to Cornelia, his wife of 50 years. And although Don has been active in the church for most of his life, it's his first time as a deacon. He has done the work for many years without the official title.
"We should all care for each other all the time," he said, as a tear rolled down his cheek, proving that direct and outspoken can also be soft and tender.