SOUTH PORTLAND — Wayne Ross, former longtime president of what would become Southern Maine Community College, died Monday at age 80.

Ross was appointed director of Southern Maine Vocational Technical Institute in 1979, and his title changed to president when it became Southern Maine Technical College. He retired in 2002, shortly before it became Southern Maine Community College.

Wayne Ross, former president of Southern Maine Technical College, died Monday at age 80.

Wayne Ross, former president of Southern Maine Technical College, died Monday at age 80.

Ron Cantor, current college president, said Ross was known to many faculty and staff members for developing a family-like atmosphere under his caring leadership.

“He oversaw the transformation of our college through the decades and laid the foundation for what SMCC is today,” Cantor said in a news release.

After his retirement, Ross and his wife, Betsy, moved to a home on Willard Beach and stayed connected with the college.

“Graciously, they opened many doors for me and for other new arrivals,” Cantor said.


The Wayne H. Ross Technology Center, on the South Portland campus, is named in his honor.

Mayor Tom Blake, who has taught at SMCC since 1985, first as a firefighter-paramedic and now as a Maine historian, remembered Ross for his community involvement and widespread social connections.

“He was skilled at raising funds and community support for the college,” Blake said.

Ross was born in Monticello and grew up in Augusta before attending the University of Maine, where he received a bachelor’s degree in business and economics and a master’s degree in public administration. An Army veteran, he held a variety of state-level education posts before becoming director of the former technical school.

Throughout his life, Ross was an active volunteer, serving as a board member or leader of many charitable and civic organizations, including the South Portland Chamber of Commerce, Maine Medical Center Foundation, Spring Point Museum, Portland Symphony Orchestra and Willard Beach Neighborhood Association. He also was a member and deacon of the First Congregational Church in South Portland.

He is survived by his wife, Betsy Ross, daughter, Anne Ross-Murray, and son, Steven Wayne Ross, all of South Portland, and other family members.

Visiting hours will be held Nov. 25 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Hobbs Funeral Home, 230 Cottage Road. A memorial service will be held Nov. 26 at 1 p.m. at the First Congregational Church, 231 Cottage Road. A reception will follow at 2 p.m. at the McKernan Center, 2 Fort Road, on the SMCC campus.

In lieu of flowers, the Ross family has asked that memorial donations be made to the SMCC Foundation President’s Fund at 2 Fort Road, South Portland, ME 04106.

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