The Whitworth University department of athletics is mourning the passing of Ross Cutter, a Pirate and NAIA Hall of Fame coach who shaped the department's culture with his humor and goodwill long after his retirement in 1991.
Dr. Cutter passed away on Wednesday morning. He was 96.
Ross "retired" as a faculty member and Whitworth's men's tennis coach in 1991. He continued to visit his former colleagues on a regular basis after his retirement. He also continued to lead Jan Term study tours to San Francisco until 2007.
Ross came to Whitworth in 1958 and served as the head of the P.E. department as an assistant professor. He coached the Pirate netters for over three decades, leading Whitworth to six Evergreen Conference championships and five NAIA District 1 titles. His 1961 squad reached the NAIA semifinals and his 1969 squad advanced to the NAIA final eight.
His influence was felt well beyond Whitworth. Ross served on the NAIA National Tennis Tournament Committee for 18 years and served as president of the NAIA Tennis Coaches Association in 1971-72.
Ross was inducted into the NAIA Coaches Hall of Fame in 1986. He was enshrined into the Whitworth Heritage Gallery in 1993. In 1997 Whitworth's new tennis courts were named in his honor.
Ross was well known around the Whitworth community for engaging faculty and staff in a ceremonial "Opening of the Balls" at his team's home matches. He could name a good, and often out-of-the-way, restaurant in nearly any major town or city in the western United States. He maintained an encyclopedic knowledge of major league baseball rosters well into his 90s.
Ross and his wife Shirley, who preceded him into rest, were very active in their church and in local civic events.
Information about services for Ross will be added as it becomes available.