Retired Boynton Beach police officer Richard "Rick" Ross once ran a karate school.

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Coronavirus: The ones we lost — The Palm Beach Post is chronicling the lives of the people in Palm Beach County who died in the pandemic.

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BOYNTON BEACH — In November, Rick Ross gathered with old pals for a reunion of retired city police officers.

"We shared stories and enjoyed each other's company," Chris Yannuzzi, a former Boynton Beach detective, posted April 19 on a tributes page. Yannuzzi, who also served as Ocean Ridge police chief, remembered his friend as a "lifelong public servant taken way too soon."

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Richard Alexander Ross Jr., of suburban Boynton Beach, died April 9 at Bethesda Hospital East. Cause of death was listed as COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.

In 66 years, Ross assembled a jammed resume. Cop. Karate instructor. Marine shop owner and boat racer. Motorcycle enthusiast. School administrator. Father of four and grandfather of one.

"Please keep Rick's family and friends in your thoughts as we mourn this immense loss. Rest in peace, Sensei!" the police department, invoking the martial arts term for “teacher,” wrote in an April 10 Facebook posting.

It drew nearly 300 comments, many of them from former students at Ross’ karate school or at at the South Tech Academy vocational charter school in Boynton Beach, where he taught.

"He definitely loved his community, and clearly people cared for him as well," son Derrick Ross said from California.

When his father fell ill in early April, Derrick Ross said, relatives originally thought it was his diabetes acting up. But he also was having trouble breathing. After about four days, Derrick Ross said, his father went into the hospital. Soon after, he was intubated. He died five days into his hospital stay, his son said.

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Ross, born in New Jersey, came to Boynton Beach in 1977. He was a Boynton Beach officer from 1981 until he retired in 2001 as a sergeant.

He also was a lifelong instructor in sshin-ryu karate, a form of Okinawan karate, and reached the rank of eighth degree grand master. He ran his own school on Federal Highway in Boynton Beach until a few years ago, and still was doing private lessons, his son said.

"Karate is a way of life," Rick Ross said in a 2007 Palm Beach Post feature. "I teach a way to function."

He also owned R&R Marine, building and repairing outboard engines, and raced his own boat. And he was one of five early members of the South Florida Outcast Motorcycle Club.

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Most recently, Ross had been dean of discipline at South Tech, where he also taught motorcycle and marine engine classes.

“’Mr. Ross’ was a legend at SouthTech, consistently acting with love and compassion, always advocating for the young adults of #STA and beyond,” the academy posted April 10 on its Facebook page.

“Words can’t begin to describe our sadness,” the school wrote. “We will miss him terribly. “0-4 , thanks for the memories ... over-and-out”.

Relatives also have started a fund that will award a scholarship to a South Tech senior.

Funeral arrangements are pending because of the pandemic.

ek@pbpost.com

@eliotkpbp