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Ross R. Cotroneo

July 24, 1930 - August 12, 2021

Ross R. CotroneoRoss was born July 24, 1930 in Lewiston, Idaho to Ross and Carmela (Reda) Cotroneo.  He grew up on the family farm as the youngest of four children.  He and his siblings were first generation Americans as both of his parents had emigrated from Italy. He blamed his legendary dislike of green beans on eating so many of them while living on the farm.
After high school and taking a job in a shoe store, he followed in his brother’s footsteps and began working for the Northern Pacific Railroad.  This was the start to his lifelong love of railroads. He was drafted during the Korean War to operate locomotives in Korea.
When he returned from the war, he briefly returned to the Northern Pacific Railroad before enrolling at the University of Idaho under the G.I. Bill.  While there, he was the Founding President of the Epsilon Kappa chapter of Theta Chi. Having the opportunity to attend college was never something he took for granted and he continued to value education for the rest of his life. His love of American history decided his college major and he graduated with his PhD in History from the University of Idaho in 1966. Ross’ PhD dissertation, The History of the Northern Pacific Land Grant, 1900-1952, was published in 1979.  
During his studies, his cousin Toni introduced him to a young lady she thought would be perfect for him- and she was correct.  Ross was still finishing his education when he and Elizabeth (Liz) Bradley were married on Saturday, January 28, 1961 in Spokane, Washington.  They celebrated a quick honeymoon, as he needed to be back in Moscow, ID to teach a class on Monday.
Ross took a job at Valley City State College in Valley City, North Dakota.  While in North Dakota, they welcomed their daughter Linda. Returning to what Ross called the “ideal Northwest”, he took a position teaching history at Oregon College of Education in Monmouth, OR.  
Ross spent the next 28 years at OCE, later Western Oregon State College, retiring in 1994. He served as the Chair of the Social Science Department for many years. He thoroughly enjoyed his time teaching undergraduate students and working with them was very rewarding for him.  He always enjoyed when previous students approached him and said “Hello,” often sharing the encounter with others attached to a memory of them in class. He fiercely believed that college should be affordable for everyone. He wrote more than one nasty letter to textbook companies about the cost of textbooks and how ashamed they should be.
As he approached retirement, he gave up playing handball and took up golfing. He enjoyed many afternoons playing golf with friends Al Redsun, Dan Sewell, Walt Sinclair, Harvey Price, and Pat Rashko. He took to golf pretty well as his multiple holes in ones attest.
After retiring, Liz and Ross enjoyed travelling, playing pinochle, and spending time with friends and family. Ross loved his family immensely, and was so proud of his grandchildren. They could do no wrong in his mind.
Ross is survived by his wife Liz, his daughter Linda Hukari and her husband Scott, his grandson Aaron Hukari and his partner Jeremiah Haley and his granddaughter Megan Hukari, nieces, nephews and cousins.  At his request, there will not be a service. Interment will be private.

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Dear Family of Dr. Cotroneo, I am sorry for your loss as I read about in today's Statesman Journal. Dr. Cotroneo was my advisor at Western in the 1980's. I married my wife as a senior. Sort of in jest (Dr. Cotoneo had a wry sense of humor), I asked him for marital advise. With a deadly serious response he encouraged me to live true to my wedding vows and keep away from extra marital affairs. Great advise as I've seen a friend's marriage dissolve from his indiscretion. I am grateful to report that my wife and I are going on 36 years of a happy marriage. May good memories and transcendent hope help you through this difficult time. My respects to you and yours.

Ross was my advisor at OCE and I took many History Classes where he was the instructor. I will always remember the spirited debates I had with him in class and in his office on points where we didn't see eye to eye. Unlike many instructors he welcomed a point of view contrary to his own and  respected  you if could clearly and logically attempt to dismantle his.         We also left quite a bit of sweat on the Handball Courts where he was a serious competitor.                                                     My deepest regards to his family and I hope they can take some comfort from my respect for him.                                            RIP "Doc".