Yale University

In Memoriam

Ross Erskine Canterbury

Ross Canterbury
1964 graduation

Ross Erskine Canterbury, 75, of Peoria, Illinois, passed away peacefully, while surrounded by his family, at 7:07am on Saturday, May 20, 2017.

Born on February 24, 1942, in Chicago, Illinois, to Dr. John Ross Canterbury, M.D., and Audrey Bunting Canterbury, the family moved to Peoria, where Ross attended Whittier Grade School and Peoria High School. Ross attended college at Yale University, where he was President of Zeta Psi fraternity and graduated with honors. He then continued his education at Yale Law School, where he was active in Scroll and Key, as well as many volunteer roles.

Upon graduation from law school, Ross commenced practice with the Chicago law firm of Isham, Lincoln and Beale. Thereafter, he became a partner in the Peoria firm of Westervelt, Johnson, Nicoll and Keller, where he practiced for forty-five years. He concentrated his practice in labor relations and employment law, where he was a respected confidant and advisor to many businesses, municipalities, and corporations, including Caterpillar.

Ross generously gave of his time in his specialized field as a lecturer. For many years, he was rated as a preeminent attorney by Martindale Hubbell, the highest classification by America's most respected evaluator of attorneys. As an AV-rated attorney, he was recognized as having both the highest professional integrity and ability in his profession.

As a member of the Peoria County and State of Illinois Bar Associations, Ross was viewed as a friend and mentor to the generations of lawyers with whom he practiced. He was equally respected by the NLRB and the courts, both trial and appellate, before whom he appeared. He was an able advocate for his clients, as well as a strong supporter of the rule of law upon which his clients' interest depended.

Ross Canterbury served as an elected Board member for Peoria County (1972-1978) and Peoria School District 150 (1983-1988). He completed six years on the Peoria Area Community Foundation Board, including service as President and as Chairman of the Development Committee. Ross was also the Chairman of the Illinois Valley Public Telecommunications Corporation Board. His commitment to voluntarism and to his community was inspiring to many.

Ross is survived by his beloved wife, Susan Mathis Canterbury; two sons, John Carter (and Dena) Canterbury of Peoria, Illinois, and Clay Deming (and Kim) Canterbury and their children, Clay II and Cathrine of Freeport, Maine; and stepdaughter, Amelia (Amy) Blossom (and David) Lomas of Elgin, Illinois, and their children, Megan, Ryan and Kaitlyn. Additional surviving grandchildren are Jane and John IV (children of late stepson, John D. Blossom III). Ross is also survived by his sister, Jill Canterbury (and John) Wahlfeld of Peoria, Illinois; nephews, Jeffrey Wahlfeld and Christopher Wahlfeld; and nieces, Sarah Kaspar and Emily Butenhoff. He is also survived by grand-nieces, Hadley, Jillian and Ellory Wahlfeld and Elin and Ophelia Butenhoff. Ross will be greatly missed by his special dog, Lilly.

Ross was preceded in death by his parents, John and Audrey Canterbury; sister, Jan Canterbury Kaspar; and his stepson, John D. Blossom III.

Ross was a treasured gift to his family, friends, and community. He lived every minute of his life to the fullest with a true appreciation for art and sports (especially tennis and fishing), for sharing his love of gardening with others, and in exploring the world enthusiastically through adventure travel. He adored his wife, Susan, his children, his grandchildren and his entire family. He truly cherished his many friendships and his family genuinely appreciates the continued devotion his friends have shown through the years. 

A celebration of life will be held at the Illinois Valley Yacht & Canoe Club on Tuesday, May 30, from 2 to 5 pm. Casual dress is required.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Alzheimer's Association, Central Illinois Chapter, 612 W. Glen Drive, Peoria, IL 61614, 309-681-1100.