Honor Diver Anne Ross Fairbanks Passes Away
ISHOF Honor Diver, Anne Ross Fairbanks, died peacefully after a brief illness on June 18, 2009. She was also one of those World War II period athletes who most assuredly would have drawn a bead on an Olympic gold medal had there been games in 1940 and 1944. During those years, she was unquestionably the Queen of American Springboard Diving, winning 9 US AAU national titles, when USA diving was number one in the world.
Born to Kenneth Ward Ross and Mary Wells Ross in Port Washing-ton, Long Island, on November 28, 1923, Anne graduated from Port Washington High School as valedictorian. She received her bachelor's degree from Barnard College in N.Y., and a master's in physical education from Wellesley College in Mass. She was the author of the book, Teaching Springboard Diving, and dozens of articles, a lecturer and teacher in five colleges and universities here and in South Africa; she has conducted workshops and clinics in 116 different cities in synchronized swimming as well as in her first love springboard diving.
Anne began diving at an early age at the St. George Dragon Club in Brooklyn, and was U.S. National Springboard Champion from 1940-1944. She moved women's diving into the gymnastics realm of men and still had the grace that always went with women's diving. In her diving Anne was most outstanding for her height from the board. This was particularly note-worthy in those days of wooden boards with cocoa matting strips. She was the first woman to execute the 2 1/2 somersault pike in competition, and while a stray "10" or two were awarded, her proudest moment in performance was when five 9 1/2's were announced (5 judges) for an inward 1 1/2 somersault in pike position (3m). Named to the "Mythical Olympic Team" of 1944, she was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1984.
Following her retirement from teaching in 1985, she became extensively involved with volunteer work, particularly with the Red Cross Bloodmobile program. She was also involved with the Thursday Morning Club and was named as one of George H.W. Bush's "Thousand Points of Light". She was involved with the St. John's Episcopal Church for 50 years, sang in the choir, and was an active member of the Haiti Mission including trips to Haiti until very recently. She is survived by her brother Gordon and his wife Darla; her daughter, Mary and her partner Lise; her granddaughter, Ana; stepdaughter, Berthaida; and step-granddaughter, Linda Sargent. There will be a celebration of her life on Saturday August 22 at 10 a.m. at St. John's Episcopal Church at 146 First Street in Troy. Donations may be made in her name to the Haiti Mission at St. John's or to the American Red Cross.