by Karen Alberg Grossman

MR magazine is saddened to report that Donald H. Ross, founder of Van Dykes Menswear in Southfield, Michigan, died peacefully of natural causes on December 17th, 2019. He was 91.

The oldest son of Alex and Lillian Ruzumna, Don attended Central High School and the College for Creative Studies, “so I could meet girls,” he confessed. He proved successful and in 1948 married the love of his life, Marilyn Ruth Burnett, with whom he went on to raise four children. In the early ’50s, Don served proudly in the Navy, stationed in Hawaii.

In 1944, Don opened Van Dykes, which over the years became synonymous with men’s high fashion. As European fashion was becoming the rage in the ’60s, Don opened his first Next Door Shop in 1967. Located in area malls springing up around town, Van Dykes Next Door Shops became the go-to destination for young men looking for the very latest in European high style.

Over the years Van Dykes clothed many Detroit notables: from DJs like Larry ‘Doc’ Ellis to welterweight champion Thomas Hearns, as well as loyal clergy from all over the city.

Don loved the business, his store, and his customers. He always remembered everyone’s name, even into his 90s.

He and Marilyn shared a love of Oriental art and ceramics and were important benefactors to the DIA. Marilyn preceded him in death, having passed away in 2004. Don was also predeceased by his sons Peter (Suzanne) and Matthew Ross and former son-in-law Doug Crisan.

Don leaves behind a loving family including daughter Serena (Tom) Taylor, son David (Lucia) Ross, and grandchildren Drew (Meredith), Zack (Erin) and Stephanie Crisan, and Natalie and Julian Ross as well as two beautiful great-granddaughters Zoe and Brooke Crisan. He is also survived by his brother, Dr. Richard Ruzumna, brother-in-law Michael Hirschelman and wife Lynne. He was uncle to Wendy and Evan Hirschelman, Paul and Dan Ruzumna, Jon and Jeff Imerman. 

Don was well-loved by the menswear industry and an inspiration to so many in the business. Steve Sockolov describes him as a “kind and loving man.” Says Gary Lowy, “All of us who knew him always found him to be a gentleman and a great merchant. He touched many of us. May his name forever be a blessing.”


  1. There will never be another Don Ross.
    Don was a long time customer and friend.
    I will miss the interaction with him.
    I will miss him-God Rest Your Soul –Don
    Good Bye

    1. A wonderful man, and a great merchant. Don knew his customer, and what they wanted. He not only gave them what they would desire, but also led them to what they should have. Merchants like Don are rare. My deepest condolences to his family.

  2. I had the pleasure of working for Don from 1977-82. We spent many trips, dinners and laughs together be wherever we were. He was truly a mentor in the fashion industry. He was also a friend. Don and I have remained friends until his passing. He indeed was a great men’s’ wear retailer. He understood his customer and new a winner when he saw one! He was truly a unique man, full of piss and vinegar, but with a gentle nature too….at times! He will truly be missed by me….

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