June 27, 2008 — Rupert W. Ross Jr. will add to his long list of accomplishments the post of governor of Rotary District 7020, which encompasses Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Haiti, the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, St. Barths, Turks and Caicos, St. Martin and Nassau, when he is installed Saturday.
The announcement came at a Rotary press conference at Gertrude's Restaurant Thursday. Ross is the fourth district governor from the Virgin Islands and the third from the Rotary Club of St. Croix West, said Richard Grant, past district governor,
"I am very honored and excited to be serving as district governor," Ross said. "The district has had a very productive past year and I look forward to continuing on those lines."
He will govern 70 clubs with 2,400 members. "Ross is required to visit each club in the first six months," Grant said in the announcement. "He will become a resident on American Airlines."
The four service pledges emphasized by Rotary International are providing clean water, literacy and reducing child mortality, health initiatives and eliminating hunger.
Locally, Ross said he would like to see District 7020 increase membership to 2,500, create new clubs and add youth clubs. Another goal is providing modern tools to manage clubs and bring the district closer together.
"The district is spread throughout 1,500 miles of ocean, and keeping in contact is a challenge," Ross said.
Increasing Rotary's public image is another goal set by Ross. He said significant events on St. Croix are the Rotary Club of St. Croix West celebrating its 40th anniversary and the Rotary Club of St. Croix celebrating 50 years of service to the community.
The local clubs focus on connecting with the younger generation through scholarships and grants. Rotary also sponsors youth fellowship exchanges. In the spring Rotary will sponsor a young professional exchange, sending four young professionals to Australia.
To help children, Rotary International has matched a grant allowing for the local clubs to provide each child in the Virgin Islands with notebooks.
The 35th annual district conference will be held May 5 to 9 of next year at the Divi Carina Bay Resort and Casino on St. Croix since it is the location of Ross' home club.
Three years ago local Rotarians recommended Ross to the position and he has been preparing for his role since.
"To prepare for the position I have even given up my golf club membership," Ross said. He has also given up his position on the V.I. Board of Elections and chairmanship of the Frederiksted Economic Development Association.
Ross was inducted into Rotary in 1982. During his 36-year tenure he has served in 15 positions.
His professional career began in 1963 teaching math and Spanish at Claude O. Markoe School. He was the superintendent of schools for St. Croix and later the V.I. Assistant Commissioner of Education. He has also served as the St. Croix administrator and the governor's representative under Gov. Charles Turnbull.
His community activities include president, chairmanships and memberships in 14 different organizations such as two constitutional conventions, the St. Croix Horseracing Commission, the Boys and Girls Club and the St. Croix Federation of Teachers.
"His hobbies are Rotary, Rotary, Rotary, reading and golf," Grant said.
He has been married to Cheryl E. Seales for the past 38 years and they have three children and four grandchildren.
Ross said the public is invited to his installation ceremony at 11 a.m. Saturday at Government House in Christiansted. Gov. John deJongh Jr. and Lt Gov. Gregory Francis are expected to attend.
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