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Obituary: Ross Verey Sayers, M.D.

Ross was an extraordinarily gifted and intelligent individual with many wide-ranging talents, accomplishments, and meaningful contributions both to his chosen field of medicine and in distinguished service to his country.

Ross Verey Sayers, M.D. Photo credit: courtesy of the family
Ross Verey Sayers, M.D. Photo credit: courtesy of the family

The Sayers and Larson family and friends are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Ross Verey Sayers, M.D.  Ross died peacefully at home, in Klamath Falls, Oregon on December 10, 2013.

Ross was an extraordinarily gifted and intelligent individual with many wide-ranging talents, accomplishments, and meaningful contributions both to his chosen field of medicine and in distinguished service to his country.

Ross was born at Women’s Hospital in New York City on April 3, 1920 and grew up in Rye and Port Chester in New York’s Westchester County.  His family included a brother named Albert and sister named Victoria.  His mother was a teacher and his father was the manager for the Westchester Country Club.  He attended junior high school in Port Chester at the Edison School.  At age 13, his family moved to New York City and he attended George Washington High School in the Washington Heights section of New York City.  He became an Eagle Scout with 36 merit badges completed.

During high school, Ross was active in the band and orchestra and was accepted to the Juilliard School of Music at the age of 16, but instead opted to go to Columbia University.  From 1937-1941, he attended Columbia University in New York City and graduated with a BA in English.  He was an organist and choirmaster in NYC during these years.  He remained active in the Columbia University Alumni Association until his late 80s and attended many reunions.

Following his college education, he became an instructor and then the head of the Department of English at Peakskill High School in Westchester County, New York.

Ross served his country in World War II as Executive Officer and Lieutenant Commander of 36 landing crafts in the Pacific Theatre, taking part in five landings in the Pacific, including Iwo Jima, Saipan, Lady Gulf in the Philippines, Okinawa, and Tinian.  He continued to serve in the Naval Reserves until 1964. 

Following the war, Ross decided to pursue medicine and earned his MD degree at the University of Louvain Medical School in Belgium.  He entered the school knowing neither Dutch nor French.  Within 3 months his classmates were borrowing his notes as he became fluent in both languages.

Upon his return to the U.S. and his hometown of New York / Madison, Connecticut area, he worked for 17 years in critical medical research and development roles supporting the introduction of important new drugs at the forefront of medicine at that time.  He managed to test, clear with the FDA, and launch more than 100 new life-saving medicines over the course of this career. 

He attained specialization in ophthalmology and was invited to teach and practice at Yale University Medical School, where he remained on the faculty for more than 20 years.  At the same time Ross ran a private practice in ophthalmology and served as the Health Director for his town of Madison, Connecticut.  At 78, he retired from private practice and clinical work.

Throughout his life, Ross continued to enjoy and achieve in the field of music.  Ross played the organ at various churches throughout the New York City area (including the famous St. Patricks Cathedral on Fifth Avenue).  Ross’ culminating musical achievement was playing the organ at Carnegie Hall every Sunday morning for six months.  At the ripe old age of 90 and beyond, he was still enjoying and playing music.  Ross performed concerts and played Christmas carols on his piano for gathered family and friends at this home in Klamath Falls, and played the trumpet for the Klamath Symphony Orchestra in three consecutive Fourth of July Celebrations in Veterans Park.  Ross was always distinguished by his suit and tie, starched white shirt, and red suspenders.

Ross was very civically minded and became a regular contributor and participant at the Elks Club of Westboro, CT and Rotary Clubs of Madison, CT and Klamath Falls, OR 

In 2006 Ross moved to Klamath Falls, Oregon to join his partner Carolyn Collier Larson, with whom he maintained a close friendship for 68 years.  Ross was cherished by Carolyn’s children and his children.

Ross is survived by his sister Victoria Sayers of Philadelphia; his daughter Helen Sayers Wilson of Bermuda and his son Albert Sayers of Port Jefferson, N.Y. from his first marriage; his daughter Susan Sayers of Seattle, WA from his second marriage; his life partner Carolyn Collier Larson of Klamath Falls, OR and her children, Janet Larson, Tom Larson, and Laurel Larson.  Ross’ daughter, Jane Sayers, predeceased him.

At Ross’ request no formal memorial service is being held.

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