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Memorial Service

First United Methodist Church of Bennettsville
Sunday February 16th, 2020

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Eugene Bedford Ross

Eugene B. Ross

Eugene Bedford Ross, age 90, passed in peace with family by his side on January 31, 2020 at Richard M. Campbell Veterans Nursing Home.  Formerly of Laurens, SC, he was a resident of Bennettsville, SC at the time of his passing. Entrepreneur, philanthropist, pharmacist, and avid golfer, Mr. Ross was born in Hermanville, Mississippi, the son of the late Harry F. and Edith Fife Ross.  Gene graduated from Crystal Springs Consolidated High School in 1947 as an all-star high school athlete, lettering all four years in football, basketball, tennis and track. Upon graduation, he attended Copiah Lincoln Junior College in Mississippi until 1948 when he enlisted to serve in the Air Force. He completed his training at Lackland Air Force base and served as drill instructor during the Korean War.  Upon honorable discharge in 1951, he moved to Washington, DC and was employed with Proctor and Gamble as sales representative. During his tenure, he submitted patent ideas which led to the development of two major products: blue Cheer laundry detergent and Pepsodent striped toothpaste.  

In 1956, he, along with his younger brother Richard, enrolled at the University of Georgia to become pharmacists.  The Ross brothers bootstrapped their way through college by attending alternate quarters: one brother working two shifts in their uncle’s drug store in Elberton, GA while the other attended pharmacy school full time.  The next quarter they switched roles until Gene obtained his B.S. degree in Pharmacy at the age of 33. During his career, he was licensed to practice in the states of North and South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.  

Upon graduation, Mr. Ross began his professional pharmacy practice and moved his family from Elberton, GA to Laurens, SC as the Founder of Eureka Drug Stores, Inc.  He was joined later by his brother and lifelong business partner, Richard Ross. The Ross brothers first acquired Eureka Rexall Drugs located in the Wattsville community, followed by eleven subsequent drug store acquisitions in the Laurens and Clinton area.  

In 1964, the company began to expand its business operations to eventually include retail pharmacy operations in the states of North and South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.  By 1982, Eureka Drug Stores, Inc. had grown to become the eighth largest filler of prescriptions in the entire United States. For over 54 years, Gene was beloved by his fellow colleagues, employees and patients, serving families for more than three generations.  In 1980, he was recognized by the national publication Drug Store Topics for his innovative business ideas which helped revolutionize retail drug store practices by first introducing the concept of leased pharmacy departments, negotiating volume discounts based on purchases, and introducing SC to a retail drug store that remained open 365 days a year.  The company successfully operated pharmacies under the trade names of Drug-Lo, Griffin’s 88, Scottie, Pope’s Variety, Value-Pak, Marcee Drugs, Piggly Wiggly.  Prior to his recent illness, he was the oldest practicing pharmacist in South Carolina.

Gene never met a stranger and his circle of friends was diverse.  While expanding the business to include stores in the Nashville, TN area, he befriended numerous entertainers in the Nashville music industry.  He was known as a fierce and trusted contract negotiator.

Mr. Ross was an inventor holding numerous product patents, including Dr. Ross’ Old Fashioned Liniment, EZ Sock ID, and the Heatbelt hand-warming device.  His greatest passion in life was golf.  Known affectionately by his fellow golfers as “Button” and “Slingshot,” he set low score records in several SC Amateur tournaments.  He continued to play until his health recently declined, always encouraging younger golfers to develop a love for the sport.

Mr. Ross was a member of First United Methodist Church of Laurens, Marlboro Country Club, and formerly Lakeside Country Club.  He is remembered with love and survived by Elizabeth Ross of Laurens; children Jean Ross Polinski (Walter), Susan Ross Graves (Stokes), Richard F. Ross, Patricia N. Ross of Myrtle Beach, SC, and Lindsay Ross Kirn of Charleston, SC; sister Carolyn M. Rogers of Winston-Salem, NC, sisters-in-law Shelba Ross of Hendersonville, NC and Alene Ross of Green Cove Springs, FL; grandchildren Ashley Grothe (Scott), Christopher Hocker, Lauren McCoy (Michael), Ross Graves (Jessica), Rachel Feliciano, and Lillian Kirn; four great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.  He was pre-deceased by Joanne B. Ross of Myrtle Beach; and brothers Richard Ross, Sr. of Laurens, Harry Ross, Jr. of Florida.

A memorial service will be held at 2:00 pm on Sunday, February 16, 2020, at First United Methodist Church in Bennettsville, SC.  In remembrance of Gene’s philanthropy to the communities he served, the family requests that in lieu of flowers memorials be made to First United Methodist Church of Laurens Pastor’s Discretionary Fund or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Condolences may be expressed online at www.thekennedymortuary.com.

To plant memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Eugene Ross, please visit our flower store.


Oh My Mr Ross..... I so enjoyed meeting Mr Ross when he stayed with us at Holiday Inn, Bennettsville for 2 years. Upon arriving that evening he came in with chocolates, and said " Sweets for the Sweet" and he never changed that charming persona with us. He told me one day that his father took his hand and told him to close his eyes and put his hand in his and put the hand of a black persons hand in his---and said "can you tell the difference" and he said no, and his Dad told him,then never show a difference. I loved meeting Mrs Ross and Lindsay and Mr Ross' son,very beautiful family. He will be greatly missed in Bennettsville. My heart is very heavy as I strive to leave a tribute to his family. I only learned of his passing a few days after the memorial, or i would have definitely attended the service. I will always honor his memory, a Very kind Man indeed, to all.

Cynthia Burris Feb 27 2020 12:00 AM

A candle was lit in memory of Eugene Ross

Cynthia Burris Feb 27 2020 12:00 AM

My prayers are with you. Gene was the most caring person; who loved is family dearly.
Becky Dixon Jackson

Becky D Jackson Feb 8 2020 12:00 AM

He was a wonderful man and was always so kind. Im so sorry for your loss. My prayers are with you all.

Patsy Mabry Feb 6 2020 12:00 AM

Betsy and family,
I am sorry for your loss. He was a great mentor to me when I started my career. Never a dual moment when he was around. He had a zest for life. He told me a few years back, that he had a heck of a ride. I will keep you in my prayers.

Don Revis Feb 5 2020 12:00 AM

Betsy and Lindsay and family, so sorry to see Gene has passed away. He was a character and tough as nails. I can just see Gene and Richard together again. Big hugs and always after the next dream.
He lived life to the fullest.

Cindy Spires Feb 1 2020 12:00 AM

A candle was lit in memory of Eugene Ross

Cindy Spires Feb 1 2020 12:00 AM

He loved you like a son Fin. Our best to all our Lakeside family.

Betsy Feb 1 2020 12:00 AM

Betsy and Family sorry for the passing of Gene he was always for of laughter and would always be there if you needed to talk.He part of our family as we were a part of his.May his memories live on and now that he has passed heaven just opened a drug store with Gene,Richard and Brud all there together again trying to see who fills the orders May GOD bless you during this time wonder what time their tee times are

Rodney Hartsell Feb 1 2020 12:00 AM

A candle was lit in memory of Eugene Ross

Rodney Hartsell Feb 1 2020 12:00 AM

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