Jean R. Cross

Published 7:06 pm Saturday, June 4, 2016

Jean R. Cross, 94, passed away peacefully at home in Suffolk on May 30, 2016. She was predeceased by her husband of 57 years, Harry Lee Cross Jr.

Kathryn Jean Ritchie Cross was born in Roseburg, Ore., on Jan. 4, 1922. Daughter of Cloe LaBrie Ritchie and Hugh Ritchie, she was proud of her pioneer heritage, particularly her great-grandmother, Anne Eliza Rowley, who crossed the Oregon Trail in 1856. Mrs. Cross and her brother, LaBrie Hamilton Ritchie, grew up on the LaBrie family ranch in Garden Valley, Roseburg, Ore.

Jean married U.S. Army Capt. Harry Lee Cross Jr., of Suffolk, in 1944 at Fort San Luis Obispo, Calif. After World War II, the couple settled in Suffolk, where they raised their three children and were very active in Main Street United Methodist Church and the community.

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She is survived by daughter, Nancy Cross Pair, and her husband, Wilbur Vincent Pair Jr.; son, Hugh Ritchie Cross and his wife, Dr. Lynn Butler Eberwine Cross, and her son, Vernon Gaskins Eberwine IV; and Harry Lee Cross III and his wife, Lisa Thompson Cross, all of Suffolk. Grandchildren are Harry Lee Cross IV and his wife, Kathryn Reeves Cross, of Suffolk; Joseph McIlwaine Cross and his wife, Melissa Gainey Cross, of Grapevine, Texas; and Alice Ritchie Cross Lee and her husband, Timothy Robin Lee, of Norfolk. Great-grandchildren include Margaret Laney Cross, Kathryn Thompson Cross and Elizabeth Reeves Cross, of Suffolk, and Jack Carter Cross, Allie Frances Cross and Samuel Joseph Cross, of Grapevine, as well as many nephews and nieces. Her brother, LaBrie Ritchie, passed away in 2015. He and his wife, Ruth Harvey Ritchie, lived on the family ranch.

Mrs. Cross graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in home economics education from Oregon State University, where she continued post-graduate studies in early child development. She was also a graduate student at The College of William & Mary, Williamsburg. She taught home economics at Fortuna High School in California after OSU graduation and at Whaleyville High School. Through the years, she taught nutrition classes at Louise Obici Memorial Hospital School of Nursing, sewing classes for girls for the VPI Extension Service, and Sunday school classes at Main Street United Methodist Church for youth and adults. She was a founding co-chair of the organizing board for the Main Street Day Care and Pre-School and served on the board for many years.

Mrs. Cross served on the Norfolk Florence Crittenden Services Board of Directors, Greater Tidewater Girl Scout Council Board of Directors, and the Administrative Board of Main Street United Methodist Church, Council of Ministries, and as president of the United Methodist Women, who awarded her an honorary life membership. Under her leadership, the City of Suffolk Beautification Committee became a permanent city commission. She helped develop a city-wide beautification plan that resulted in trees being planted by the city on Main and Washington streets as well as other locations. The Mr. Peanut Park at the corner of Washington and Main Streets in Suffolk is also a result of her vision and leadership. She served on the board of Riddick’s Folly when restoration of the 1837 historic Suffolk mansion was begun. Mrs. Cross was a member of the Driver Book Club, an honorary life member of the Suffolk Literary Club, an honorary member of the Suffolk Social Club and a former member of the Suffolk Art League. In 2002, a scholarship for graduating high school seniors was established by her family through the Suffolk Education Foundation.

Mrs. Cross moved to Lake Prince Woods in Suffolk in 2002. There she was known as the unofficial welcoming committee, visitor to the sick and down-spirited, joke teller, and the bearer of a cheerful countenance.

A memorial service will be held at Main Street United Methodist Church on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, at 11 a.m., followed by a reception. A celebration of life service will be held at 3 p.m. on June 15 at Lake Prince Woods, 100 Anna Goode Way, Suffolk.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations be made to the Main Street Day Care and Preschool Caring for Children Fund, which provides scholarships for families in need and was established in 2003 by the Cross family. MSUMC Day Care and Preschool, 202 N. Main St., Suffolk, VA 23434. R.W. Baker & Co. Funeral Home and Crematory, Suffolk is assisting the family. Condolences may be offered at