John Ward Ross-Duggan, MD

John Ward Ross-Duggan, MD
(nicknames “ John Ross, Doctor John, Rhino)

Died at age of 57 drowned in a sailing accident on February 23, 2013.
Residing in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Born: Long Beach CALIF. On August 2, 1955

Son of Dr. John K Ross-Duggan, neurosurgeon in the Orange County area (deceased September 1977) and Gay T. Henderson, nee Thomas of Brentwood, Calif.  (deceased August 1996)

Married and divorced from Andrea Cremins (Ross-Duggan). No children.

Formerly of Durham NC, Orlando, FL, Newport Beach, CA.

Survived by: His sister Robin E Ross-Duggan, brother Jeremy T Ross-Duggan, niece Kaia M. Ross-Duggan, adopted brother Nathaniel “Jay” Swan, Long-time companion and nurse Shu Zi Zhou, Aunts Joan Thomas of Costa Mesa, Calif, Annette Thomas of Encinitas, Calif. Remie Fenske of Arlington, VA.

Through the careful saving of his wages as a DAILY PILOT delivery boy he bought his first Hobie Catamaran 14 when he was 14. No more sabots for John, he had his eye on these innovative, fast Cats that could surf as well as sail. He got the whole family involved with sailing and they would attend all the regattas. John along with his entire family as support traveled to Hawaii in 1970 for the first Hobie Catamaran Nationals, He was 15. He placed 7th.
He was passionate about sailing and the mystery of wind.
John graduated in 1972 a year early from Harbor High School in Newport Beach.  His father, Dr. John K Ross-Duggan, was a neurosurgeon in the Orange County/Long Beach area.  It was John’s destiny to rise to the challenge of becoming a Medical Doctor as well.  This would be the first of many challenges for him. He then attended UC Irvine pre-med school, and again graduated in 3 years.  While at UCI he involved himself in intercollegiate sailing and sailed his first TransPacific on Roy Disney’s boat the Shamrock.  He was accepted to Duke University Medical School in 1975.

In 1977 John lost his guiding light, his father to Leukemia. This great sadness was followed by a near fatal auto accident in 1978 that rendered John a C-5-6 Quadriplegic. He was in his 3rd year of Medical School at Duke.

After 6 months of intense rehabilitation and mountains of support from family, Duke University and the community John re-entered Med school and graduated in 1979, no longer able to be a surgeon because of loss of dexterity in his hands he settled on Radiology.

John completed his residency at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, OK and a fellowship in neuro radiology at Parkland Hospital in Dallas TX before settling in Orlando, Florida and becoming the director of his own MRI Unit.

He met his wife Andrea Cremins while being interviewed by her for a health segment for local TV. He asked her out on a date and they were married in 1986, he was now 31.  As life would have it the marriage did not last and they were divorced several years later. John never remarried.

 In the mid 90’s he really got serious about mono-hull sailing and left the Hobie Cats to recreation.  He worked with Gene Hinkel,  chairman of the sailing center at the St. Pete Yacht Club in Florida. With the help of the International Federation of Disabled Sailors (IFDS) behind them the disabled sailing program was launched in 1994, using the Sonar.  This program still exists and is now the circuit for the US Paralympics.  Next, he conscripted his mother to help him mount his first paralympic campaign. The fundraising was demanding, there was much travel and sailing in different trials. It was a constant effort and she rose to meet the need.  John’s mother passed away at the exact time the 1996 Paralympics were happening in Atlanta. He sailed for her, as she promised she would be the wind in his sails, he medaled taking the bronze.

His sailing accomplishments were significant, to name just a few:
1997 World Hobie 16 National Champion
1994-1997 Winner North American Challenge Cup -Chicago
1996 Paralympic Bronze Medalist - Atlanta
1996 US SAILING Male Athlete of the Year
1998 World Disabled Sailing Gold Medalist
2004 Paralympic Bronze Medalist - Athens

By far the three most important things to John were his profession as a diagnostic radiologist, his constant connection to his family and his tremendous love of the Ocean. Thus at the urging and support of his family and friends he decided to “live his dream” and build a home in Hawaii that would suit his specific needs as a quadriplegic. In 2006 John moved to his new residence outside Waikiki. As with most things in his life, he carefully engineered it so that he could work out of his home.

In Hawaii John returned to sailing Hobie Cats for the love of it. He also refused to accept that he would not surf again. He built 6 proto-type surf boards with the help of board maker and innovator Steve Boehne at Infinity Surf in Dana Point Calif. John competed  in the Access Surf- disabled surfing competition at Duke’s off Waikiki  for 5 years in a row and won his division this last year.

John was an amazement and an example to many.  He was involved in Wheelchair tennis, swimming and hand-biking and showed great sensitivity in water color painting. He did his best to make the wheel chair invisible to others.
Memorial Services are being planned in his home town of Newport Beach  and in Hawaii. His ashes will be scattered in the Pacific.  Date for Newport Memorial is May 25th at the Lido Island Yacht Club. Please contact his sister Robin at  . There is also the John Ross-Duggan Tribute Page on Facebook, everyone is welcome, sites are listed where donations are being accepted and will be updated with information as more sites are completed.
Donation Links for John W Ross-Duggan

John directly impacted both of these organizations below. He participated in, helped found or competed in all of these. His family would be greatly honored if you would contribute to keeping John’s  life-flame alive, as well as helping others he may have inspired along the difficult path of disability  with his  deep love for the Ocean and being in it, on it or near it.

AccesSurf -  

 XS Adaptive Adventures - www. xsadaptive sports

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