Petaluma native Julia Ruth Ross, who engaged passionately with the world — through rich personal relationships but also economics, which she termed "the study of choices" — died March 15, barely a month after her Feb. 8 marriage. She was 29 and living in Santa Ana.

She died of septic shock at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach a day after being admitted, said her father, Joseph West of Petaluma. She had experienced mild, flu-like symptons for a few months, he said, but nothing that would have indicated a fatal outcome.

Results of a coroner's investigation are pending.

Ross was born Julia West on April 27, 1983. She graduated from Petaluma High School in 2001, her youth characterized by wide-ranging interests and the determined personality that was her signature.

A green-haired punk rocker, she was among the first girls to play Little League baseball. She was a voracious reader who also played youth soccer and worked with the Youth Conservation Corp in Point Reyes National Sea Shore. She had a brain for mathematics and an equal ability to approach anyone she wanted to meet.

"She was just sweeping up every life experience she could," her father said. "And she collected people; she wasn't afraid to walk up to anybody."

Even as a teenager who at times resisted her parents, she continued also to embrace them, said her mother, Dru West.

"What I cherish about Julia is she kept growing and growing into who she was more and more," her mother said. "She always was just so loving to us, even when she was determined to be who she was."

She added: "I felt honored that I got to raise this beautiful girl who became a beautiful woman. She continued to help me grow as a human being, as a mother and as a woman."

Ross studied business at Santa Rosa Junior College and in 2007 earned her bachelors degree in economics, with a minor in applied mathematics, from Humboldt State University.

She studied for her Ph.D. in economics at UC Irvine, on a full scholarship, but left with her masters degree in 2009 to apply her knowledge in a "real world" environment.

When she met Eric Ross, a hardware engineer who would become her husband, she said to him: "Economics is awesome because it is all about the study of choices. People have infinite wants and desires, with limited resources, so folks have to figure out how to choose what to do with our resources. You can apply it to everything in life."

At her death, Ross was a senior consultant at Urban Sciences in Long Beach.

Joseph West, an engineer, recalled that after years of coaching his daughter in mathematics, she returned from UC Irvine eager to show him her final exam in the subject.

"I said, 'Julia you've gone so far beyond me that I can't even understand the questions,'" West said. "And she got this huge grin on her face — and it was so wonderful. You love it when your children surpass you."

Ross's survivors also include her brother Marc Fish of Inverness and her sisters Nancy Martin and Laura West of Petaluma.

Memorial services will take place in April.

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