James Lawrence Rossi

James Lawrence Rossi passed away from pneumonia, Thursday, March 7, 2019. He was born in 1930 in San Luis Obispo County, Calif.

He was the youngest son of Vincent and Edith Rossi. His father, a second-generation American, lived and farmed a ranch in the Templeton area. His grandfather had come from Switzerland as part of the Swiss migration to Central Coast dairy operations. He went to school in Templeton, junior high in Morro Bay and high school in San Luis Obispo. He began working at the ranch in his early days.

In 1950, after his marriage to Naomi Fleming, Jim and his two brothers, Maurice and Jack, opened a processing plant at their Templeton Dairy where they processed, bottled and delivered milk. When the partnership split up in 1954 and the plant was sold, Jim bought the milk tanker and began hauling San Luis Obispo County milk, down to Santa Barbara to the process plant. Seeing a need, he began hauling hay to the dairies where he picked up milk. In 1953 Rossi Transport became a reality. Since the milk had to be hauled daily, another truck had to be purchased along with hay trailers. Hauling hay is very labor intensive they quickly had to hire help.

Through the 60s, the business grew to four trucks. In the late 60s and early 70s, Jim was doing the sales, dispatching, billing, repairs and sometimes the driving. He also found time to help build two houses and raise four children, Susan, Steve, Julie and Chris.

He hauled milk, hay, fish, grapes, fertilizer, nuts, apples, oranges and anything else that was legal and could fit on the truck.  

Jim Rossi was always thinking ahead of the curve, knowing what would be coming next. Yes, there were business ventures that didn’t quite pan out like he thought they would, but that didn’t’ stop him from learning and moving forward. He built his own first Squeeze, composed of parts of trucks and engines from other vehicles (a nightmare to license because of all the different years and ID numbers) but it worked. He bought his first plane and learned to fly when he was in his late 40’s. When he turned 65 he finally retired and his children Susan and Steve took over the day-to-day operations. But just like the relatives before, his retirement meant building houses, fixing up rentals, and developing property.  

Jim valued hard work. He didn’t care who you were or what color you were, as long as you worked hard. When he gave his word, he meant it. He would go out of his way to allow a man his pride, an example of that one time a previous employee who had come on hard times came in trying to sell him something he didn’t need. It wasn’t even in good shape, but he knew the man needed the money, so he bought it so that he could give the man some money.

Jim loved the Lord and lived out his faith every day. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He survived by his wife of 68 years, his children, Susan Sommers (Scott), Steve Rossi (Laurie), Julie Kauffold (Michael) and Chris Rossi (Dawn); his grandchildren, Shawna Sommers, Ephraim Sommers, Sarah Midgley, Rachael Kauffold, Michlynn Kauffold, Benjamin Rossi, Michael Regan, Evan Rossi, and Aubrey Rossi; and great-grandchildren, Michaela Kauffold, Mae Belle Reddies, Julianne Red Boy, Christian Red Boy, Lexi Regan and Lena Regan; and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.

Memorial Service will be held Wednesday, March 13, 2:30 p.m. at Gospel Chapel, Atascadero.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to:

Child Evangelism Fellowship

POBox 1781

Atascadero, CA 93423

LINC - Love and Inspire Nations through Compassion

732 Golden Meadow, CA 93446


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