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Coss remembered as determined and loyal

January 22, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

Ron L. Coss, a Hagerstown businessman, photographer and former City Council member, was remembered Wednesday as a determined man and loyal friend who was not afraid to speak his mind.

Coss died Tuesday of complications from lung cancer, his wife, Christine Coss, said. He was 57.

Christine Coss said that even until this week, "he was so determined to live."

"Everything he did, he did big. If he was going to join a club, he wanted to be president of that club. If he was going to join a competition, he wanted to win that competition," she said.

"Ron would have given anybody the shirt off his back if he thought that would be helpful to them. He was a really big-hearted guy," said State Sen. Donald F. Munson, who had been friends with Coss since they were children.

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Coss entered the political arena in 1973 when he helped with the mayoral campaign of Varner L. "Pat" Paddack, Munson said. Munson said he was Paddack's campaign manager and that Coss did the advertising work.

In 1981, Coss won a seat on the Hagerstown City Council.

He became embroiled in controversy with the local chapter of the NAACP, and lost battles over city land deals.

"He could be controversial. He had some definite ideas about things," Munson said. "He just simply did what he thought was right."

Coss was part of a progressive council, and he helped move the city toward redevelopment, including laying groundwork for the city's first parking deck, said current Mayor William M. Breichner.

"I think Ron had a serious interest in advocating for the city, making it a better place to be," Breichner said.

Coss finished his council term but did not seek re-election because he was considering running for Congress.

Before he could mount a campaign, he was appointed Hagerstown's acting mayor in 1985 after then-Mayor Donald Frush was hospitalized during his campaign for re-election. Coss ran Frush's campaign, but the mayoral post went to Steve Sager.

Coss pulled out of the congressional campaign in 1986, then ran for mayor in 1989, losing to Sager.

Since then, Coss helped run campaigns for Robert Bruchey, who was elected mayor in 1997 but lost in a second bid in 2001, Munson said.

Coss owned The Impact Group, the advertising agency he started in 1974. He also took up photography as part of his work and had been recognized by the state for his work in pictures. Some of his work recently was on display at the Mansion House Art Center at Hagerstown's City Park.

Coss and Christine were married in 1998, and the two traveled to Egypt, Australia and New Zealand, she said.

"He never laughed with anyone in the world like he laughed with me, and we could laugh at anything at any time," Christine Coss said.

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