Good Feeling, Good Fit

By+Bill Moor

Mishawaka Outdoorsman and athlete makes staying in shape a priority

When Stan Ross was inducted into the Mishawaka High School Athletic Hall of Fame earlier this year, he wore the white sweater he received in 1949 for earning eight varsity letters.

Good feeling. Good fit. Stan, now 80, continues to stay active. “I cross-country skied 53 times this year,” says the retired industrial arts teacher. “And when it gets warmer, I’ll be swimming again in the river.”

For the last eight years, he has lived on the St. Joseph River in his hometown of Mishawaka and he couldn’t be happier. It reminds him of his youth when he and his younger brother Milt spent so much of their free time along the riverbank and in the current.

“We swam off Monkey Island, dug holes, built shacks and had a great time,” Stan says. “We developed our own creativity. Life wasn’t so structured like it is for kids today.

Stan was also a Boy Scout and went to the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. One of his and Milt’s few regrets in life is that they didn’t earn a couple more merit badges and become Eagle Scouts.

Despite suffering from asthma, he became an outstanding runner, setting a Mishawaka school record in the 440 and helping Coach Dutch Thurston’s cross country teams to second and third-place finishes in the state. He later won six letters at Ball State University.

“Sometimes Milt and I would score 30 points between us in dual track meets at Mishawaka,” recalls Stan who also played varsity basketball. “I ran all my life until about 12 years ago. I have both knees replaced.

Stan stays healthy by bicycling, dancing, canoeing, kayaking, cross-country skiing and swimming. He always has enjoyed a good physical challenge. “On my 40th birthday, I climbed a 20-foot rope 48 times in an hour,” he says. “When I turned 70, it was a two-mile swim across Lake Bemidji.”

An enthusiastic back-packer, he once hiked two of the tallest peaks in California (Mount San Jacinto and Mount San Gorgonio) on the same day – an up-and-down journey of more than 30 miles. And on a summer break from college, he and Milt looped Lake Michigan on their bicycles in just eight days.

The father of four and grandfather of nine, Stan spent his 33-year teaching career in California and then 15 years in Bemidji, Minnesota before returning to his hometown to live on the river.

“I love the outdoors and I sleep out on my deck during the summers,” he says. “I can look up at the stars and through the trees. It’s great to be out in the fresh air.”

Stan, the longtime outdoorsman and athlete, has kept in shape and has also kept his shape that high school letter sweater still looking pretty good on him.


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