Founder of Ross-Simons Jewelers dies

Sidney T. Ross, 88, founder of Ross-Simons Jewelers, died Sept. 21, 2004, at Rhode Island Hospital.

He was the husband of Lillian S. (Singerman) Ross. They were married for 63 years.

Born in Lynn, Mass., a son of the late Louis and Rebecca (maiden name is unknown) Ross, he moved to Providence in 1943 and has been a resident of Cranston since 1950.

Mr. Ross was a 1933 graduate of Lynn Classical High School and a 1938 graduate of Northeastern College of Law.

A self made man, he was accepted to Tufts University but was unable to afford it because his father worked in a shoe factory and there was not enough scholarship money available. Thus, he went to work and put himself through the night program at Northeastern College of Law.

Unable to make a living as an attorney he ended up working in the retail jewelry industry in Boston, New Bedford, and Providence before opening his first Ross-Simons store on the eight floor of the Lapham building in downtown Providence in 1952. A pioneer of value-oriented retailing, his mission was to provide customers with quality products, superior service at value prices.

With this mindset, he consistently ended up in litigation with vendors that sued him to force Ross-Simons to charge consumers higher prices under the fair trade laws. Utilizing his legal knowledge Mr. Ross prevailed in these court battles and ultimately won on behalf of the consumer in the landmark decision of Sunbeam vs. Ross-Simons.

In Sunbeam, the R.I. Supreme Court held in favor of Ross and the consumer by refusing to enforce an injunction that prohibited Ross from selling below a certain price.

Mr. Ross remained active in all aspects of the business until retiring at the age of 82 after having open-heart surgery.

Along with the active management of his wife and two sons, Ross-Simons grew into a leading national catalogue, internet and retail jeweler with 14 stores in nine states and over 50 million catalogs circulated annually.

“My father believed there was a niche in the Providence market and by extension, across the country for gifts of luxury at affordable prices,” his son Darrell Ross said. “Today, over 50 years later, my father’s legacy is a world-wide recognized and successful brand based on his unique insight and vision”.

Mr. Ross was a member of Temple Bethel in Providence where the service was held.

Besides his wife he leaves two sons, Mark A. Ross of Warwick and Darrell S. Ross of Providence; and 5 grandchildren. He was the brother of the late Harry, Theodore and Ernest Ross.