Ross E. Traphagen Jr.

April 6, 1923 - March 4, 2014
Ross E. Traphagen Jr. April 6, 1923 - March 4, 2014

Ross E. Traphagen Jr., a part-time East Hampton resident and member of the Maidstone Club, died on March 4 at home in Hobe Sound, Fla. He was 90.

Mr. Traphagen began his professional life at Davis Polk & Wardwell in Manhattan following his graduation from Harvard Law School in 1948. He went on to Goldman Sachs, where he worked from 1963 to 1985, then founded his own family investment firm, Plough Penny Partners, which he ran until 2005.

He was a strong supporter of educational causes, his family said, and served on the boards of the Peck School in Morristown, N.J., the Eaglebrook School in Deerfield, Mass., Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, Harvard Law School, Drew University in Madison, N.J., and Denison University in Granville, Ohio.

He was also a director of the Neighborhood House in Morristown, Family Service America, Morristown Memorial Hospital, and the Newark Museum. He was a member of the vestry of St. Bernard’s Church in Bernardsville, N.J., and Christ Memorial Chapel in Hobe Sound.

Over the years, Mr. Traphagen was a board member of several corporations, including Congoleum, Bath Ironworks, and the Pennsylvania Crusher Corporation.

He was born on April 6, 1923, in Newark, to Ross Edwin Traphagen Sr. and the former Daisy Bradley. He graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy and Yale before going to law school.

A captain in the Army field artillery during World War II, he was awarded a Bronze Star for heroic action in the European Theater.

His family said he was passionate about politics in his early life and was a founder of Youth for Eisenhower and a president of the Young Republicans Club in college.

Mr. Traphagen began spending his summers in East Hampton in the 1950s, where he met his future wife, Barbara Tuttle May. Here, he indulged his love of  bodysurfing in the ocean, developed as a youth on the Jersey Shore. He took pleasure in teaching his children to join him in the Atlantic, his family said. He also played golf, tennis, and paddle tennis.

In addition to Mrs. Traphagen, he is survived by his children, Judson B. Traphagen of New York City, Laura Traphagen of Morristown, Edward J. May of the Villages, Fla., and Sara May Bennett of Blairstown, N.J. He also leaves two grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at Christ Church in Hobe Sound at 4 p.m. on April 19. Memorial donations have been suggested for the Alzheimer’s Foundation, 322 Eighth Avenue, 7th Floor, New York 10001.