Ross 'refused to cower in fear'

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.comSeptember 17, 2009 

Amanda Ross was eulogized Wednesday as a passionate young woman committed to public service "who refused to cower in fear."

In a service that brought several hundred people to the Carrick House in Lexington, Ross's Sept. 11, 2009, murder was correlated with the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"In the darkness of the early morning, a domestic terrorist predator cowardly lay in wait," said Dale Emmons, a Democratic political consultant who is a close friend of the Ross family. "In a selfish and senseless act of personal terrorism, Amanda Ross was taken from us."

Ross, 29, was gunned down Friday morning at her home on West Short Street in Lexington as she prepared to leave for work in Frankfort as director of financial standards for the Kentucky Department of Insurance.

Former Republican state Rep. Steve Nunn, Ross's ex-fiancé and the son of the late Gov. Louie B. Nunn, has been charged with her murder and with violating a protective order.

When he was taken into custody, Nunn blamed the loss of his job as Deputy Secretary of the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services on a domestic violence protection order sought by Ross in March.

Emmons made reference to the claim during the service, saying "Amanda did not contribute nor does she share responsibility for the loss of her life."

"As Amanda did, let us refuse to cower in fear," Emmons told the mourners as he urged them to fight against domestic violence.

After the service, envelopes were provided to mourners who wanted to donate to domestic violence prevention efforts.

The Rev. Richard Anderson said he prayed for justice, but called on the mourners to not allow bitterness to consume them.

"Today is a day to forgive," he said.

The socially active woman was well-known in political circles and lived to serve Kentucky, those who eulogized her said Wednesday.

Ross's late father, Terrell Ross, founded the financial company Ross, Sinclaire & Associates, which has deep political ties.

"She was her father's daughter," said Lexington Vice Mayor Jim Gray, who spoke at the service. "She loved to be in the mix, not a spectator."

Friends who spoke at the service described Amanda Ross as both the belle of the ball and the girl next door. She was the mathematician who longed to write and paint, they said.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo said in an interview that he last saw Ross three months ago at a political dinner in the same room at the Carrick House where her funeral was held. He said he was a good friend of her father for 25 years.

"People look at this and wonder why anybody who had as much given to them, as many opportunities as Steve Nunn" would end up as a suspect in Ross's death, Stumbo said.

"It's sort of one of those unanswered questions that people will ask for a long time," he said.

Among those in attendance was former Lexington Mayor Teresa Isaac, who said she attended Transylvania University with Steve Nunn and was a friend of Amanda Ross.

"A lot of people knew both families," said Isaac. "People really respected Amanda and her potential, and people who grew up with Steve respected him. People are just shocked that it happened. It's a real tragedy for both families."

Gray noted that Ross was passionate about the historic downtown neighborhood around the Carrick House, "these few blocks of downtown Lexington" where she went to Sayre School and lived as an adult.

After the service, a horse-drawn carriage carried her coffin through those downtown streets to her final resting place in the Lexington Cemetery.

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