Janie Lee Ross was born in 1921 in Jackson, Tennessee. Her father was a church deacon, and she remembers attending choir rehearsals. In the 1940s she and her husband Thomas moved to Chicago, and she went to practical nursing school. They moved to Ann Arbor in 1951 and purchased a home on Fifth Avenue. They opened their home to many friends and relatives who needed a place to stay. Ross was a nurse’s aid at St. Joe’s Hospital and a custodian in Ann Arbor Public Schools. She has four children–Charlotte, Thomas, Carol, and Eugene (Bobby)–and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.