Perhaps the Flyers’ best-ever third guy high, who sacrificed points but never his principles to know the sport’s ultimate high in 1974 and 1975, died Sunday near his home in Acton, California, at 67, of complications from cancer he fought as even-handedly for nine years as he skated his position for 16.
“Really, there’s not a whole lot you can do but give into the needs of treating the disease,” Lonsberry told us three years ago, as he recovered from six-hour surgery to take out half of one lung. Having once followed Fred Shero to two Stanley Cups, Lonsberry knew a sound plan when one was laid out to him. He abided this one bravely, even cheerfully, almost until this weekend, when pneumonia set in.
“Talked to him last week and he was upbeat,” said Orest Kindrachuk, Lonsberry’s teammate on the Cup teams and linemate in Pittsburgh, where they were traded along with Tom Bladon in 1978.
“I met him a year ago in Palm Desert (Calif.), We were walking up some steps and he said “Whoa, O, I have to slow down, only have one lung right now.
“I said, ‘Does that mean you can only have a half-beer.” He said, ‘No, I will have a full beer.”
Perhaps Lonsberry drank that one to make up for those early seventies Sundays in Philadelphia, when the Kings bus would drive in from the airport past the dreary auto graveyard to the side off the Penrose Bridge, play the game, and then go back to the lonely hotel by the sports complex, for lack of better options.
“You couldn’t find a place open to get a beer after the game,” he said.
He was called Roscoe a lot but I did know that Don and Gene called him that and at Rexy's when chops were being busted that name was used. He was one of the players who was steady and just did his job. He fit like a glove with the Hawk and Dorny. Maybe one day they will find a cure for that dreaded disease.
It's interesting how he did draw stray votes for the Hart in 1970, played in the 1972 All-Star Game, and got votes for the All-Star Team in 1977, all the while he never put up any serious numbers for a LW. I guess it talks about his intangbles a lot, and unfortunately the Selke was not around until the very last part of his career, perhaps he would have gotten great finishes there had it been around earlier?
I loved Ross and IMO the deal that brought him and Cowboy Bill Flett here from LA was the final tweaking of the team, short of Bernie returning... It set the two lines and propelled the team to the next level. Lonsberry was everything that could be expected on the team and was a 'Team Player' to the hilt, doing whatever was needed of him. He was fast and added that dimension to the team. He was an unheralded piece of the Championship Teams that never got his due respect out side of diehard core fans who saw him play game in/game out. He was one of my favorite Flyers of the time.
I remember him as Roscoe Rabbit... The Rabbit nickname went along with the other animal nicknames that were popular on the team at that time... along with The Hound, Arnie the Pig, Hawk, Big Bird, etc.
It is a shame to see another Flyers hero pass... R.I.P., Ross... you will forever be in the hearts of those who saw you play in Philly.