Paul Ross credits his good health to a clean diet (most of the time), exceptional family genes, staying active — and of, course, the occasional skydive. Ross, along with his daughter, grandson, granddaughter and his nephew’s wife, celebrated turning 90 on Sept. 28 with a 14,000-foot dive. And it wasn’t his first time.
“I was 75 the first time I did it,” said Ross, who moved to Cullman from Michigan in 1969 (his Midwestern accent still audible). “The reason I chose skydiving is because I had a brother who was a paratrooper in World War 2 and I always wondered what it was like to jump out of a plane.”
The sensation of freefalling through the clouds, he said, is well worth it. While coasting high in the sky, Ross said he mostly thought about beholding the beautiful scenery that spilled below him.
“I could see Lake George, Lake Catoma — I could see it all,” he said with a smile. “When you first leave the airplane, it’s pretty rough, though. You have 100-some mile-per-hour winds in your face. After that, it’s a nice, slow coast down.”
Born in 1929, one month before Wall Street crashed and a decade before World War 2 broke out, Ross has enjoyed many feats in life — one being married to his wife, Pat Ross, for 64 years. He’s also served in the Army Signal Core as a microwave radio repairman and worked for the same company, Speedring Manufacturing, for 34 years.
“I started off as a machinist, then worked as a process developer,” he said.
With 90 years to his name (and now two skydives to his adventurous resume), Ross said he doesn’t have one challenge in particular set for his next birthday. For right now, he said, he’s content to continue taking long walks in Cullman, working on Sudoku puzzles (his favorite is the 97-cent edition from Walmart) and spending time with family.
His best piece of advice to others his age who might be considering taking a leap of faith (literally) and doing something courageous? “If you’re in good health, do it. Find something that excites you, and go out and do it.”