Lilian 'Flower' Robinson Ross, lay ministry champion, dies at 80

December 3, 2009

Lilian "Flower" Robinson Ross, co-creator and champion of Education for Ministry, an educational program for lay people in ministry, died Nov. 30 in Asheville, North Carolina. She was 80.

The oldest of three children, Ross was born in Atlanta, Georgia, at the beginning of the Great Depression, and was nicknamed "Flower." Her mother was Margaret Mitchell's typist when she wrote "Gone With The Wind." Ross attended Mary Washington College and received a master's degree from Loyola University in New Orleans.

Ross worked for the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama while her children were young and later for the School of Theology at the University of the South – Sewanee, where she married the Rev. Charles Winters in 1980. Along with Winters, she helped create Education for Ministry, which is still widely used throughout the Episcopal Church. Throughout the years, Ross traveled extensively in Asia, Europe, Australia and North America while serving as a trainer of mentors for Education for Ministry groups all over the world.

Ross and her husband joined the faculty of Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, where they both taught until their retirement in 1994. They moved to Asheville to be close to friends and joined the Cathedral of All Souls. Ross remained active in lay ministry until her health deteriorated. The couple eventually moved to Deerfield Episcopal Retirement Community where Ross lived at the time of her death.

Ross was an excellent ballroom dancer, an avid reader, a cat-lover, a lover of good food, a generous person, a thoughtful friend, a grateful servant, and a devoted spouse.

Ross is survived by her husband, one brother and four children from a previous marriage. She also leaves behind two step-children, as well as nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

A celebration of her life and a memorial service will be held at the Cathedral of All Souls, Asheville, at 2 p.m. on Dec. 12 with the service of Holy Communion, concluding with the Interment of Ashes in the church garden, followed by a reception in Zabriskie Hall at the Cathedral.

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