Friday, May 27, 2011

This is for Amarilis-(see below!) I found you the Times Obituary of George!

George Ross
May 12 2011 12:01AM
Romanian émigré and eccentric who taught physics and the philosophy of science while living a restless, bohemian life in London
George Ross was an intellectual bohemian who, before he applied to leave his native Romania in 1963, was set for a career in physics. The communist state employed Ross, who graduated fourth in the country, as a bottle- washer and a glassblower in a light-bulb factory before letting him go. A kind, emotional man, who spent the rest of his life teaching physics and philosophy of science, mainly in London, he never abandoned the high moral principles that made life under a people’s dictatorship unbearable.
Born in 1935 into a wealthy and distinguished Sephardi family in Bucharest, Ross grew up multilingual. One grandfather spoke 14 languages. A second taught him geometry like Socrates taught the slave boy, by drawing lines in the sand with a stick. Ross longed to study philosophy, but since the communist curriculum offered only dialectical materialism, he chose physics, and kept up his real interests, and his wide reading, in private.
During the war Jews in Romania were not sent to concentation camps but his father had to sweep the streets and Ross had to go to a school with only Jewish children. There his teachers were professors banned from the university. One had taught Einstein.
Some members of his family joined the Communist Party to survive the regime, but Ross accepted the offer open to Jews to emigrate. His application lodged, he suffered five years as a social pariah. He was 28 when he arrived in Israel with his mother Anne-Marie, deprived of his books, possessions and mementoes. Ross, his wife Rosemary later said, left Romania with his brain and his extraordinary memory. He began what would become a lifetime’s second career as a private tutor while his mother waited for her husband to join them. He never did.
At the Weizmann Institute in Rehovoth, Ross was a specialist in optics when he met Rosemary Emanuel, from a North London Jewish family, fresh from Cambridge and curious about Israel. They lived there together and then in 1964 her parents threw them a grand wedding in London that Ross, a Romanian émigré without papers, almost missed. Plunged into synagogue life, the ardent individualist was shocked by being expected to conform; not a good omen for his married future. Though appropriately learned, he never wanted to be a practising Jew.
Israel, with its religious minority increasingly dictating the tenor of daily life, also rapidly displeased him. For the birth of their first son, in 1965, the couple returned to England, where they were joined a year later by Anne-Marie. A second son was born in 1969, and Anne-Marie lived with them until her death in 2002.
Ross worked for ICI, and then for three years lectured in glass technology at the University of Sheffield. He subsequently held posts at Queen Elizabeth College and King’s College London. Yet neither his official posts nor his marriage ever quite fitted him.
An unbridgeable gulf opened up between the Emanuels and Ross when he refused to have his sons circumcised and thus to bring them up as Jews. With Rosemary under constant strain to please both parties, in 1983 Ross finally declared “the need to have his own front door”. They were divorced and Rosemary remarried.
After he retired Ross turned to his old intellectual dream to dwell among the philosophers. Though he suffered as an emotional man in an emotionally inexpressive country, he had many offbeat, individualistic friends in his post-married life. He became a familiar, much loved figure at London’s many public philosophy meetings and seminars, dressed in a black T-shirt and flipflops, not least because of his great size. He knew journalists, academics and many other exiled East Europeans, and loved to mix them together at dinner parties that revealed him to be a marvellous Romanian cook and master of the supersized portion. When his small, elegant West London flat, piled with books and papers, became too hot in summer he escaped to a nudist club in Surrey.
He was a founder member of the British-Romanian Association from 1965 and later its vice-president. After 1989 he campaigned for the restoration of the Romanian monarchy. He wrote speeches for the exiled King Michael, and his own returns to Romania, in 1989 and 1992, was a time of hope. Alas, he came to see Romanian politics, about which he published a book in 2002 (Modern Romania, a Brief Historical Perspective), as almost as murky after the political change as before, and he had to accept that his vision of democratic integrity for his native country was not to be.
As friends knew who crammed into London fringe theatres beside him to see Absurdist dramas by the Romanian playwright Eugene Ionescu, what Ross learnt in opposition to communism determined his life: “Not to give into the herd mentality, to stand out against the enormous uniformisant pressures of our century, to maintain human presence and dignity,” as he put it in a last e-mail to a friend.
In his final decade he kept in touch with Rosemary. But he began to suffer from ill health owing to the weight that he just could not shed. She and his two sons survive him.
George Ross, private tutor, lecturer and bohemian, was born on October 28, 1935. He died on April 18, 2011, aged 75


Blogger Unknown said...

Nice post which says lots more about the Flat to let London...

5:18 AM  

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