Adrienne Ross

1933 - 2023

Adrienne Ross, aged 90, died November 6th, attended by near family and a few friends.

Adrienne was smart, witty, feisty, generous and loyal.  She was a dedicated foodie, and a serious fan of The Beatles and Thelonious Monk.  A sensitive and penetrating observer of her milieu, she was addicted to reading fiction and current developments in science and politics.  Adrienne herself was a gifted writer; her 2011 collection In the Eyes, In the Mouth earned the Independent Bookseller’s Award of Excellence and was the winner of the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association Best Book of the Year Award.  Her stories unpack complex relationships and dilemmas through prose that swings with seemingly effortless description and dialogue.

Adrienne was born in 1933 in Modesto, to immigrants.  Her brother Robert was born in 1939, and in 1940 the family moved to Los Angeles.  Adrienne studied at Los Angeles City College, the University of Minnesota, and UC Berkeley, later working at UCB in several staff positions.  She was active in the Free Speech Movement, and spent years involved with Radical Psychiatry.  She was simultaneously at the forefront of her times and ahead of her time.

In 1970 she had a daughter, Amelia, with her then-husband David Gilson. When she retired from UCB in 1985, she began a career writing fiction, appearing in a variety of literary publications.  In the 1990s she left Berkeley for the Mendocino Coast.

She described herself as “identified with sex/drugs/revolution/rock&roll and the arts.  Not a morning person.  Married twice, divorced twice.  So, not a marriage person either.  On the other hand: wrote a book, raised a kid, built a house.”

As an avid environmentalist, she washed and reused her ziplock bags, was a fervent recycler and composter, and loved taking walks by the ocean to get “Vitamin O”.  She was unflagging in her values, while always being open to hearing another’s perspective. She adored travel, especially swimming in warm oceans, and cherished the trips she took later in life with her daughter and close friends.

She is survived by her daughter, a burlesque luminary (“Miss Indigo Blue”); her brother, an artist; and a wide circle of devoted family and friends with whom she shared, voluminous correspondence, countless cups of tea, and vibrant conversation about film, culture, politics, and nature. She will be deeply missed for her wisdom, humor and love. She wished to be remembered as someone who liked to have fun.

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