Stan Ross, who had a major and profound influence on real estate accounting through his long career, died at age 82 on Sunday from complications of a stroke.
Along with his long-time business partner, Kenneth Leventhal, Ross played a significant role in the post-World War II transformation of Southern California into a major metropolitan hub.
“He brought modern finance to the real estate business,” said Richard Green, director and chair of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate, where Ross served as chairman emeritus.
“In the 1960s, it was a rule-of-thumb business,” Green said. “People made investments based on instinct more than anything else.”
Ross had a great feel for what particular financial vehicle – real estate investment trust, C-corporation, partnership, etc. – worked with real estate based on the client and its needs, Green said.
His expertise included mergers and acquisitions, reorganizations and creative financial structures.
Ross was born in New York City’s Bronx borough in 1936. He graduated from Manhattan’s Baruch College in 1956 and later served in the U.S. Army. In 1961, Leventhal convinced Ross to move with his family to Southern California.
The duo later built Kenneth Leventhal & Co. into the nation’s ninth-largest accounting firm. Its clients included homebuilder Levitt & Sons and paper industry company Boise Cascade Co. Ross represented Donald Bren, Alfred Taubman and other real estate developers when a bidding war for Irvine Co. erupted in Orange County in the 1970s.
In the 1990s, Ross assisted with the initial organization of the Resolution Trust Corp., a government agency that liquidated hundreds of failed savings and loans institutions.
The Leventhal firm ultimately merged with Ernst & Young in 1995. Ross retired from that company four years later, but continued to work there as a consultant.
Leventhal died in 2012 at age 90.
Ross joined USC in 2000, where he was chairman of the Lusk Center. He also was the brains behind the Ross Minority Program in Real Estate, a program that teaches real estate graduates how to revitalize neglected urban environments.
At the time of his death, Ross owned homes in Century City and Huntington Beach.
Jack Knott, dean at USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy, praised Ross’s leadership at the university and described him as “a very generous, kind person” who was eager to help students.
Ross is survived by his wife of 61 years, Marilyn, their three daughters and 12 grandchildren.
Real estate reporter Ciaran McEvoy can be reached at email@example.com or (323) 556-8337.