Joseph E. Ross, lawyer and Library of Congress official, dies at 89

December 13, 2012
Joseph E. Ross
lawyer, Library of Congress official

Joseph E. Ross, 89, a Navy captain and federal agency lawyer who retired as director of the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress, died Nov. 23 at a hospital in Palm Coast, Fla. He had pneumonia, his son Christopher Ross said.

Capt. Ross began his government legal career in 1951 with the Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps. He helped write the Military Justice Act of 1968 and served at posts in the Mediterranean and Hawaii before moving to the Washington area in 1966.

He retired from the Navy in 1969 as chief of military justice at the JAG office in Washington.

From 1969 to 1972, he was a legislative lawyer with the Justice Department. In 1972, he joined the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress, where he became director in 1985. He retired in 1994.

Joseph Edward Ross was born in Brooklyn. During World War II, he served in the Navy in the Pacific and participated in combat operations at Iwo Jima, Okinawa and the Philippine Sea. After the war, he graduated from St. John’s University in New York, from which he received a law degree in 1948.

He practiced law in New York until 1951, when he was recalled to active Navy service.

He was a former resident of McLean and a Fairfax County Little League baseball coach.

In 1998, he moved to Florida.

Survivors include his wife of 66 years, Joan M. Needham Ross of Palm Coast; eight children, Richard W. Ross of Virginia Beach, John J. Ross of Los Angeles, Kenneth E. Ross of Atlanta, Edward T. Ross of Harpers Ferry, W.Va., Dennis P. Ross of Silver Spring, Christopher M. Ross of Palm Coast, David K. Ross of Charlton, Mass., and Patricia A. Ross of North Ogden, Utah; three sibling, Katherine T. Hartshorne of Santa Clarita, Calif., Donald F. Ross of Burke and Patricia M. Walsh of Westfield, N.J.; 15 grandchildren; and 20 great-grandchildren.

— Bart Barnes