Donald H. Ross, founder of Van Dykes Menswear, a men’s wear institution in Detroit for more than 70 years, died on Dec. 17 of natural causes. He was 91.
David Ross, his son and the third generation to operate the men’s store, said there are no services planned. “He didn’t want any,” David Ross said.
The oldest son of Alex and Lillian Ruzumna, Donald Ross attended Central High School and later what would become the College for Creative Studies. It was there that he met his wife, Marilyn Ruth Burnett. They married in 1948 and had four children. She died in 2004.
David Ross said his father had initially worked with his father, Alan, who had a cleaning and tailoring store in Detroit that he opened after immigrating to the U.S. from Russia. “My father worked for him before and after the Korean War,” he said. Donald Ross served in the U.S. Navy during the war and was stationed in Hawaii.
In 1944, Ross opened Van Dykes, which was a reworked version of the tailoring shop and sold work clothes. Over the years, the business had expanded to more than eight stores around the Detroit area including several under the name Next Door Shop, a store that specialized in the “hippie” clothes popular in the Sixties. There was also a formalwear store and several units in the local malls that sprung up in the Seventies, David Ross said. Over the years, Van Dykes dressed many Detroit notables including DJ Larry “Doc” Ellis and welterweight champion Thomas Hearns.
Eventually, all the stores closed except for the 6,000-square-foot flagship, which has been in its current Southfield location for 30 years. David Ross said his father still came into the store every day up until the last month when he became too ill.
In addition to his son David, Donald Ross is survived by his daughter Serena Taylor, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, as well as a brother, Dr. Richard Ruzumna.