For more than 50 years, Thelma “T-Lady” Ross was beloved by Mercer University students, faculty and staff. Here’s how she became a Mercer legend.
Thelma “T-Lady” Ross
Mercer connection: Worked on staff at the University for more than 50 years
Years at Mercer: 1947-2000
What she did: Thelma Ross was just 14 years old when she started work at Mercer in the women’s dining hall, where she set tables and washed glasses for 11 years. In 1958, she moved to the newly built Connell Student Center, working at the Snack Bar as a counter girl, counter supervisor and then Snack Bar manager. In 1986, she left the Snack Bar to work in Student Activities, running an information booth that became known as “T’s Corner.”
Why she is a legend: Through her work at T’s Corner, Ross became one of the most popular and recognizable figures at Mercer. Not only did she provide University-related information to students, visitors, faculty and staff, but she also doled out advice and became a listening ear for homesick students. Though she didn’t have any children, she loved Mercer students like her own.
Ross was known around campus as “T-Lady,” a nicknamed given to her by former basketball player Tommy Day Wilcox, a Double Bear who earned his undergraduate degree in 1965 and his law degree in 1973 and went on to be a Superior Court judge. Ross was a big supporter of Mercer basketball, attending all home games and many away.
“Other than my church and family, I don’t know of anything I cherish more than this school,” she told the Mercerian in 1997.
In 2004, the bridge at Interstate 75 and Mercer University Drive was named in her honor.
Quotable: “She embodied and represented the highest instincts of the University. She and her spirit are the heart and soul of Mercer. Not a student could pass by her without feeling the warmth of her genuine caring, her thoughtfulness, her compassion, her devotion to helping them do the right thing.” — Mercer Chancellor Dr. R. Kirby Godsey, who served as the University’s president from 1979 to 2006 and spoke these words in a eulogy for Ross in 2001
Mercer Legends is a series that highlights iconic figures who left a lasting impact on the University and its faculty, staff and students, as well as the community.