Lynn Gray Ross, 76, of Brodick, Isle of Arran, passed away on October 14th, 2022. She was born January 11th, 1946 in Kilmarnock to Tom and Ruby Ross.
Lynn’s early years were spent surrounded by her extended family in post-war Kilmarnock, Scotland. At age 11, her parents made the decision to emigrate, landing in Fair Oaks, California.
While in many ways a traumatic experience for her, she excelled there graduating from Bella Vista High School and attending Sacramento State College. It was at the latter institution she met her first husband, Bob. She took a break from her studies when his work took them first to Cambridge, Massachusetts, then to Chicago, Illinois. Toward the end of their four years in the windy city, her daughter Jill was born.
In 1970, Bob’s work took them to Stockholm, Sweden, where she quickly learned Swedish in order to pursue her MA in Linguistics at Linköping University. During this time, she and Bob separated and while he returned to the States, she and Jill remained in Sweden while she completed her degree.
In 1975, she followed through on a long-held desire to return to Scotland. On a chance visit to Arran—a place she had only seen before from childhood holidays to the Ayrshire coast—she determined to settle there. She worked for a time as typist at the Arran Banner.
Lynn was an avid knitter as a child. On a long road trip from Chicago to Mexico—in that country’s Olympic summer—she became interested in the weaving culture there. In Sweden, she took classes in weaving and dyeing and acquired a large frame loom. On arriving on Arran, she arranged space at The Gallery in Whiting Bay to assemble the loom, hold workshops and assimilate local techniques into her work.
In short order, she established the Silverbirch Spinning and Weaving Workshop attracting students, custom and acclaim internationally. Silverbirch was a model in high quality craftsmanship and small scale, sustainable production. A notable commission was a tapestry of Arran for the ‘Women Weaving the World Together’ exhibition at the United Nations Conference on Women, hosted in Beijing in 1995.
Her second husband Stephen was the middle son of the Gill family that ran The Gallery. Together they had two sons, Chris and Simon, who with Jill were raised as Arran kids.
Lynn’s abiding faith stemmed from her activity as a teen in a church with a strong community ethic. The idea of faith expressed through and for the betterment of community remained a constant thread throughout her life. In Chicago it lent her the empathy to understand the violence and anger that pervaded that city following the assassination of Martin Luther King and generally through the turbulent years of the Vietnam War. In Sweden it would provide strength when she tragically lost a partner to depression and suicide.
On Arran after her second marriage and business came to their ends, her attention turned to adult education. She founded Arran Textiles which forged several projects that would connect lifelong learners through workshops and conferences in all corners of Europe leaning again on traditional textiles skills. She applied similar endeavour to social wellbeing on the island, serving as Chair of the Board of Trust Housing Association and supporting many other community causes.
In the past decade, Lynn adjusted with grace and vitality to having suffered acute liver failure. As a grateful recipient of a liver transplant and with the support of the many healthcare workers of Ayrshire and Arran NHS, she persisted so as to be present for her granddaughters, friends, family and her many confidants. She authored the book ‘A Beginners Guide to Hand Weaving’ published by Bloomsbury Press—this textbook documents some of the work and processes that were developed at Silverbirch with colourful photographs and diagrams.
Lynn loved writing, painting and choral singing. She loved sailing and walking the many beaches and pathways on Arran. She loved her garden and all that she could grow. She loved to listen to Baroque and Classical era music, folk music of the ‘60s and Scottish folk and weaving songs.
She loved murder mysteries. She loved her family and the friends of every part of her life. Lynn was a loving and nurturing mother, grandmother and sister. She is survived by her daughter Jill (Ramsay), sons Chris (Louisa) and Simon, granddaughters Blythe and Fern, siblings Doug, Jill and Harry (Paul), and niece, Caitlin.
A service in her memory will be held in Whiting Bay at the Whiting Bay and Kildonan Church on Friday November 4th at 11:30am. Donations in lieu of flowers please to either British Liver Trust or Kidney Care UK .