By Larry Blustein
From the first time Peter Bluesten met Dorothy “Dotty” Ross in 1973, he knew that this was a "keeper." Someone who could take the City of Hallandale to the next level. He was right.
Over the next 40 plus years, Ross left her stamp on this community like nobody has ever done - and Bluesten, the founder and owner of the city's hometown newspaper, had the honor of following her charismatic career until his death in 1986.
On Sunday night, Ross, who held every office within the City Commission, and impacted Hallandale/Hallandale Beach for parts of five decades, passed away at the age of 88.
While close friends and family watched her health decline over the past few years, this "first lady" of Hallandale Beach never complained and always handled herself in a first class manner. She was simply loved, admired and respected by everyone she came across.
"She will be missed so much," Vice Mayor and longtime friend Bill Julian said. "We did so much together over the years. She was part of our family. She never held back her feelings and honest, and that is something that will stick with me forever."
Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper, who was also very close to Ross, remembered a lady who really demanded the respect. No matter what position she held, Mayor Cooper recalled that "Ross finished the job - from start to finish".
"What Dotty Ross meant to this community was more than the offices she held - or the many committees she was part of," Cooper explained. "She was the heart and soul of this community - and so many looked up to her for her many years of experience."
When she stepped down two years ago, ending more than 37 years of dedication to the City as an employee, Mayor, Vice Mayor and City Commissioner, Ross left a huge void. It was time for a politician, who was a champion for women’s rights, children, education, health care, civility, transparency in government, and, most importantly, law and order, to step aside.
During her many years, Ross often said that she would rather do what’s right than be popular. It’s that independence that helped her etch her initials in Hallandale Beach history.
In her years in Hallandale Beach, Ross witnessed plenty of change - after starting her career with the Hallandale Beach Police Department. A wife, mother to two children, a son and a daughter, she joined the City as a civilian employee handling clerical duties. She advanced to become a member of the Chief of Police’s inner circle, often assisting in interrogations and victim interviews.
A huge advocate of education, Mrs. Ross put herself through Nova Southeastern University and Florida International University. While working full-time on the staff of the Police Chief, she graduated with a degree in Criminal Justice from Nova, and then earned her master’s degree in Public Administration from FIU.
“Teachers have always been very important in my life,” she maintained. “Every time I thought I couldn’t do something, a teacher was there to help me turn a corner.”
In 2012, Ross was elected to the Broward County Women’s Hall Fame. Ross was enshrined with Lottie Albert, Lauderhill City Commissioner Margaret Bates, Annette R. Gardiner, Gretchen Thompson and Ann R. Zucker. Also, Susan Foreman was inducted posthumously.
Ross had been a leader in the community and in Broward County. She was the first female president of the Broward County Crime Commission, a member and delegate to the Broward County and national League of Cities, and first female trustee to the City of Hallandale Beach Police and Fire Pension Board. Also, she was one of the first female graduates of the Broward County Police Auxiliary Academy while serving 28 years as a civilian member of the Hallandale Beach Police Chief’s staff.
"Dotty Ross was a very special person," South Florida Sun-Times President Craig Farquhar said. "Over the past 20 plus years, I had come to know and respect her for the way she told it like it was. Honest about everything she said. That is something that will be very hard to replace."
Survived by her two children and four grandchildren, funeral arrangements are pending at the Sun Times press time.