Roscoe Leonard Conklin was born on April 11, 1934, in Ivanhoe, California, in a landscape studded with orange groves and vineyards. He was the sixth son of John Edwin and Anna Rebecca Conklin. There were only 10 years between Ross and the eldest son, Clay. Besides Clay, the other brothers were Harold, Don, Paul, and Jim. Ross was the last one to go Home.
Ross often described his childhood as idyllic in that he grew up in nature. Living on a large 10 acre property which originally nurtured oblong-shaped Emperor grapes and ultimately was the home to many orange trees, he and his brothers got into no end of shenanigans out in the fields, in the barn, in the hayloft, and in the tank house. They were barefoot from sunup until sundown when the weather permitted. They had very little in the way of material goods (i.e. toys) but they carved things out of wood and created playthings out of natural objects they found outside. They often searched for and found arrowheads. The family of 8 frequently made the long trek in their old vehicle up the winding roads to Sequoia National Park, often for just a day trip with a picnic and a hike in Crescent Meadows.
Ross always had a gift of drawing and that translated later on in life into creating paintings, most often from acrylics. He was a very visual guy and could see things in art or in life that certainly many people could not visualize.
Ross was graduated from high school in Visalia in 1952. He went on to the College of the Sequoias for two years, and ultimately to Fresno State. He received his Master’s in Voice from San Fernando State College (now Northridge). During those years, he used his considerable musical talent to earn extra money by singing for funerals, weddings, and church services. He was in demand even as an older teenager because of his rich baritone voice. He also was a church choir director for decades in the various places in which he lived. Music was crucial to who Ross was, and he particularly enjoyed classical and sacred music above all other genres.
Ross served his country in the Army National Guard for six years during the Korean conflict, but was fortunate to not see combat.
Ross was blessed four times with beautiful children! Along with his former wife, Lois, he had two daughters, Cathy and Caryn. When Cathy and Caryn were in their early 20’s in 1983, Ross married Beth, and together they raised Matthew and Laura. There are 8 fantastic grandchildren - - four are adults and four are still quite young - - and a beautiful nearly 3-year old great-granddaughter. These amazing young people are Alison, Kyle, Jenna, Connor, Kent, Josiah, Blake, Elise. . . and precious little Aurora (Rory).
Ross was a vocal (and band) music teacher from 1959 until he retired in 1999, working in the Ventura, San Diego, and Sacramento areas. An exciting 5 years of his life were spent teaching music in Saudi Arabia for the Arabian American Oil Company. Because of that opportunity, he was able to do a large amount of world traveling, a premier experience for Cathy and Caryn as little girls.
Retiring in 1999, Ross enjoyed biking, hiking, gardening, substitute teaching, and supporting Beth in all of her endeavors. He couldn’t seem to stop teaching, and he was hired as the part-time band director at two different elementary schools, bringing music to kids who otherwise would not have experienced it.
Ross was all about his profound faith in Jesus, his deep and unwavering love for his family, his joy in working in the music field, and his appreciation of nature.
Unlike lots of men his age, he had no trouble expressing his great love for each of his children and grandchildren. They all felt his love and will continue to feel it and to sense his presence.
Ross would be the first one to tell you that he is now seated at the Throne of Grace, at the feet of his personal friend and Savior, Jesus, and that he is well and whole and surrounded by the light and warmth of eternal love. He would want us to be celebrating his life and life in general, for he loved life himself!
We will miss the physical presence of this wonderful husband, father, grandfather, uncle, brother-in-law, and friend.
Ross L. Conklin
April 11, 1934 – February 3, 2022
“To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”
2 Corinthians 5:8
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