David G. Ross, commissioner and judge, dies at 77

July 2, 2013

David G. Ross, past commissioner in the Department of Health and Human Services and a Prince George’s County Circuit Court judge for 15 years, died June 4 at Woodward Estates, an assisted living facility in Bowie. He was 77.

The cause was congestive heart failure, said his son, Justin Ross.

Judge Ross sat on Prince George’s County’s Circuit Court bench from 1978 until 1993. Judge Ross was then selected by President Bill Clinton as commissioner of the Office of Child Support Enforcement. He oversaw the development and management of the federal office until his retirement in 2001.

The National Child Support Enforcement Association named him family court judge of the nation in 1989, and he received a lifetime achievement award from the Department of Health and Human Services in 2000.

After his retirement, he split his time between Bowie and Florida and taught courses in the University of Central Florida’s department of criminal justice until 2011. He also served on President Obama’s transition team for the Department of Health and Human Services in the late 2000s.

David Gray Ross was born in Quanah, Texas, and grew up in Washington. He was a 1953 graduate of McKinley Technical High School. He received a bachelor’s degree in 1960 and a law degree in 1964, both from American University.

He served in the Army during the Berlin Crisis of 1961 and remained in the Army National Guard until retiring at the rank of colonel in 1982. His military decorations included the Meritorious Service Medal.

Before his appointment to the judicial bench, Judge Ross was a senior partner at the Bowie law firm Ross, Lochte, Murray, Redding and Devlin. He was a Democrat and served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1970 to 1978, where he was credited with helping overhaul the state’s juvenile code.

He was past president of Hyattsville’s Meals on Wheels and a member of the First United Methodist Church in Hyattsville. He was a former chairman of the Prince George’s Community College board of trustees and sat on the Children’s Rights Council’s board of directors. In 2011, he moved to Woodward Estates.

His marriage to Jane Lewis ended in divorce. Survivors include two children, Abigail Hopper of Severna Park, Md., director of Maryland Energy Administration, and Justin Ross of Hyattsville, former chief deputy majority whip in the Maryland House of Delegates; and seven grandchildren.

— Megan McDonough