Grave Spotlight

In a way, cemeteries are like libraries. They contain the final resting places of thousands of people, each with their own separate and unique story. Some of these people are famous, and their stories are well known. Most are not, but that doesn't make their life any less interesting or their stories any less worthy of being told and remembered.

Periodically, we'll spotlight a different Los Angeles-area grave. Every person has a story, and we will use this space to tell their story, through their final resting place.

After your tour of the virtual cemetery, don't forget to visit the official store on your way out. Thanks!

Flo Ann Ross

(1914 - Nov. 5, 1933)

Jan, 9, 2012 -- In the early 1930s, while Amelia Earhart was capturing the world's attention as a pioneering, record-setting pilot and the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, young Flo Ann Ross, just out of high school, was learning how to fly in California.

Ross' parents were originally from East Texas, and later lived in Oklahoma. In 1925, when Ross was 11, the family -- which included Ross, her mother, her younger sister and younger brother -- moved to Los Angeles. Ross' mother, Betty, married Rhinie Nitz, a brickyard foreman, and the family lived at 3916 Ardmore Ave.

By 1933, Betty and Rhinie were divorced, and the Rosses lived in an apartment at 1226 North Hoover St., between Santa Monica Boulevard and Fountain Avenue.

Ross, a recent graduate of Belmont High School, became interested in flying, and joined a group that included D.P. Johnson of 939 South Broadway in Los Angeles, who owned a small plane. On weekends, the group would take Johnson's plane up to Fresno, Calif., about 200 miles north of Los Angeles, where they would practice flying at the abandoned Municipal Airport.

On Sunday, Nov. 5, 1933, Ross was flying alone over the airfield. According to witnesses, the plane was at an altitude of about 800 feet when it went into a tail spin and spun down to the ground. Ross suffered a skull fracture, broken leg, crushed chest and other injuries. She was taken to General Hospital in Fresno, where she died about six hours after the crash. At the time of the crash, Ross had 25 hours of flying experience, and was 19 years old.

Christian Science funeral services were held at the Little Church of the Flowers at Forest Lawn Memorial-Park in Glendale, Calif.

Rossí grave marker at Forest Lawn includes her signature, as well as the image of a small plane with a broken right wing and a broken propeller, and what appears to be a pilot inside the cockpit.

In the 1940s, Rossí mother, Betty; her sister, Evelyn; and her brother, Harold Gay "Buddy," moved back to Texas, living in Corpus Christi and Amarillo, where her sister and mother operated the Betsy Ross Gift Shop.

Ross' younger sister, Evelyn Claitor, died on Feb. 28, 2004, at the age of 85, in Austin, Texas. According to Evelyn's obituary in the Amarillo Globe-News, "from the mid-1920s until the late 1940s, Evelyn enjoyed L.A.'s golden age. She danced to the music of the big bands, watched the movie stars and marathon dancers at the beach, and graduated from Belmont High in 1936. She made lifelong friends there but was grieved by the loss of her sister, an early aviatrix, who died at 19 in a plane crash."

Flo Ann Ross is buried in the Vesperland section at Forest Lawn, in Lot 639, Space 2, close to the center of the cemetery property. Her mother, brother and sister all moved back to Texas, died, and are buried there, and she has no other family in California. So, the next time you're visiting Forest Lawn, stop by and say hello.

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