The chairman of Niagara County's Legislature turned 80 Monday - a milestone colleagues marked with cake, words of praise, and special gifts that symbolized the vigorous government figurehead's decade in office.
During a meeting of the Legislature held last week, colleagues offered up tokens that spoke to Legislature Chairman William L. Ross's youngest days, when he played football for the undefeated 1952 Michigan State team that went on to become national champions - as well as a unique ceremonial gavel.
The photograph shows one such birthday gift, a special edition "No. 80" Michigan State jersey that bears what has been Ross's nickname ever since he became a commanding presence in Niagara Wheatfield athletics: "Coach." Colleagues also signed a NCAA football, signing their names and district numbers as "Coach Ross's Team."
Colleagues also noted that, despite having seen his 80th birthday, Ross, a Conservative Party member who represents Wheatfield in county government, still maintains a vigorous schedule that includes multiple meetings and civic functions nearly every day of the week, as well as regular office hours in the Legislature chairman's office in the Niagara County Courthouse.
"I think I speak for all of my colleagues when I say I hope I'm doing even half of what Bill Ross does when I'm 80," said the Legislature's Public Works Committee chairman, Paul Wojtaszek.