April 26, 1956 - November 5, 2021
PERRY, GA – Thorborn “Ross” Tolleson, Jr., age 65, passed away peacefully on Friday morning, November 5, 2021. Affectionately known as Senator Tolleson by many, Ross spent thirteen years proudly serving the people of the great State of Georgia. Ross had a quick wit and big-hearted personality. He was a friend to many and a “Great American” to all. The family will receive family and friends at Perry United Methodist Church in the Family Life Center on Thursday, November 11, 2021, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. A Graveside Service will be held on Friday, November 12, 2021, at 2:00 p.m. in Evergreen Cemetery in Perry. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in memory of Ross Tolleson to Westfield School, P.O. Box 2300, Perry, GA, 31069, or The Georgia ALS Association, 5881 Glenridge Dr., Suite 200, Atlanta, GA 30328. Born in Perry, Georgia on April 26, 1956, Ross was the son of the late Thorborn Ross “Buck” Tolleson, Sr., and the late Mary Eolyne Shannon Tolleson. Growing up, Ross learned about agriculture firsthand working at his father’s lumber yard, Tolleson Supply Company. He attended The Westfield School in Perry, where he was on Westfield’s first football team wearing jersey #88, and graduated in 1975. Following high school, Ross attended the University of Georgia, where he studied general business and was a member of the Kappa Alpha Order. He was a long-time member of Perry United Methodist Church and was actively involved in the Contemporary Christian Sunday School Class with his beloved wife, Sally. After attending the University of Georgia, Ross became the Vice President of Tolleson Supply Company where he worked for over twenty years. He was also a founder and board member of Crossroads Bank of Perry, which was chartered in 1986. He served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of The Westfield School from 2000 - 2001. He also served as a Financial Advisor for UBS Paine Webber in Macon. Alongside Lowell Shepley, he helped found the Shepley-Tolleson Financial Group. Ross began his political career in 1978 by serving as an intern for United States Senator Sam Nunn. It was always in his heart to serve his community and fellow Americans. He was first elected to the Georgia State Senate in 2002 to represent Georgia’s 18th Senate District (which later became the 20th Senate District) succeeding Sonny Perdue, who stepped down to successfully campaign for governor. Ross continued to serve with loyalty in the Georgia State Senate until retiring in November 2015. While serving in the Senate, Ross was a staunch advocate for maintaining agricultural access to water. Through his service in the Senate, he proved to be a true friend to agriculture and a champion for the state’s most precious natural resources. While he served in the Georgia Senate, he was notably well respected by members of both sides of the political aisle. In February 2016, the entire Georgia Senate united to celebrate “Ross Tolleson Day at the Capitol” which was affectionately referenced by his political colleagues as “Tighten Up” Day to honor the legacy and spirit of his many “Ross-isms.” Ross served as Chairman of the Georgia Senate Committee for Natural Resources and the Environment for eleven years. As Chairman, Ross was a leader in conservation, dedicated to Georgia’s success in economic, agricultural, and environmental stewardship. Through his dedicated leadership to our state’s natural resources, he introduced and passed the most comprehensive water conservation bills in Georgia’s history. The Georgia Water Stewardship Act and the Georgia Water Supply Act ensure the long-term water needs of Georgia’s citizens. These policies ultimately contributed to Georgia’s victories in multiple lawsuits brought by Florida and Alabama as helping secure Metro Atlanta’s water supply needs through 2050. Ross was Vice-Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, and served on the Senate Appropriations Committee. He was a member of the legislative committee that provided oversight to the Georgia Agricultural Exposition Authority, which manages the Georgia National Fairgrounds and AgriCenter in Perry. He also served on the Jekyll Island State Park Authority Oversight Committee. In 2014, Ross was instrumental in sponsoring the Flint River Drought Protection Act (FRDPA) which allows water management during periods of drought in the lower Flint River and also provides the tools needed for Federal Endangered Species Act compliance. The FRDPA assisted farmers with stream flow augmentation and irrigation efficiency, and provided a revision of the drought declaration and bidding process. Ross served with unwavering dedication to meet the needs of the constituents that he loved. He was a true statesman who never missed an opportunity to participate in a small town parade or community event, or to connect with those he served. The heart of Ross always showed that he was a friend to all. He truly loved others like Jesus and wanted to make everybody feel like a “somebody.” No matter where he traveled, his favorite activity was not sightseeing, but it was always about meeting and connecting with others. Through the years, Ross received many recognitions including Perry’s Golden Eagle Award in 2016 from Central Georgia Council of Boy Scouts of America, the Georgia Farm Bureau 2016 Commodity Award, Environmental Leadership Award, FFA Honorary American Degree, and Georgia FCCLA Honorary Membership Award. Ross was a Kappa Alpha Order Court of Honor Inductee and received a Robins Regional Chamber Lifetime Achievement Award. Aside from the love Ross had for his country and state, he had a great love for his Savior and his family. Through his passions in life, Ross instilled a love for America, agriculture, and natural resources in his children that still lives on today. Ross chose to live by the mantra that “life was too short to be negative,” and this mantra was evident throughout his life’s legacy. Those close to him remembered how he loved the outdoors and greatly enjoyed fly fishing, often joking that he was one day going to retire, grow his hair out long, and become a Wal-Mart greeter in Cody, Wyoming, where he could spend his days enjoying nature in Wyoming and connecting with fellow “Great Americans”. In the last years of his life, Ross was lovingly cared for by Ms. Clara Burton. Through her devoted care for Ross, Clara became a beloved and cherished member of the Tolleson family. Ross was preceded in death by his parents, Buck and Mary Tolleson; and a sister, Laurie Tolleson. Left to cherish the memories they made with Ross were his loving and devoted wife of forty-two years, his high school sweetheart, Sally Funk Tolleson; his children, Tripp & Brittany Tolleson of Perry, Ansley & Nicholas Szakal of Reston, VA, and Kelly Tolleson of Perry; his sister & brother-in-law, Gelle and Greg Leonard of Macon; his sister, Mary Tolleson McKenzie of Perry; his aunt & uncle, Ferd & Laurie Kay of Macon; and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends. Condolences for the family, treasured memories, and stories about fun times with Ross may be left in the online guestbook at www.watsonhunt.com. Watson-Hunt Funeral Home has been entrusted with the arrangements.
PERRY, GA – Thorborn “Ross” Tolleson, Jr., age 65, passed away peacefully on Friday morning, November 5, 2021. Affectionately known as Senator Tolleson by many, Ross spent thirteen years proudly serving the people of the great... View Obituary & Service Information
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PERRY, GA –
Thorborn “Ross” Tolleson, Jr., age 65, passed away...
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