Dorothea Haus Ross
1906 – 2000
Dorothea Haus Ross was born in Harrow, England on August 6, 1906. “Dotsie”, as she was known to her family and friends, was the younger daughter of the late Simon Victor Haus and Anna Noeth Haus of Rochester, New York.
Dorothea and her sister, Georgiana, born in 1903, spent much of their early life in England, where their father was George Eastman’s General Manager for Eastman Kodak Company’s European factories. It was his job to establish new Eastman Kodak plants in Europe and Great Britain.
The sisters, with their mother, made three trips to the United States during World War I. For the last trip back to England, they were to return on the British ship, RMS Lusitania. Mr. Haus, knowing that the ship carried illegal contraband and fearing for their safety due to the threat of German submarines, ordered his family not to sail on that ship. Instead, they later made the crossing on an American-owned vessel. As feared, the RMS Lusitania was sunk off the coast of Ireland.
Dorothea’s childhood included frequent trips to the Continent and 13 trans-Atlantic voyages. She harbored fond memories of this period of her life, which included a prolonged stay in Hungary and a visit to Austria, where she and her sister were privileged to ride the famous Lipizzaner horses of the Spanish Riding School. When Dorothea was 15 years old, her father was transferred to the United States and the family moved to Rochester, New York.
Dorothea’s charitable interest in children began in 1940, when she took pity on the plight of English children who were being relocated to rural areas or other countries for safety reasons as a result of German bombing raids during the Battle of Britain. Dorothea began supporting displaced and orphaned children through an organization called “Foster Parents International”, and eventually became a lifetime contributor to its successor, “Save the Children”. She was also sympathetic to impoverished Native Americans, and began contributing generously to improve their welfare. In 1957, she and her husband, Richard, befriended a Native American family living in Arizona, and saw a generation of their children through college. Between 1953 and 1970, Dorothea and Richard embarked on four trips to East Africa where they had many opportunities to meet and interact with local Maasai villagers. These encounters generated in Dorothea a deep affection for East Africa and its people.
The concept of starting a foundation devoted exclusively to problems affecting children was suggested to Dorothea by her long-time friend and attorney, Philetus M. Chamberlain, of Rochester, New York. The Foundation was established in 1977 as a natural outgrowth of Dorothea’s lifelong commitment to helping vulnerable children. She became the Foundation’s first trustee and inspirational leader, actively serving as the Board Chairperson until 1991. She died in October 2000 at the age of 94 in Rochester, New York.