The life of Catherine Ross has been somewhat serendipitous.
It was while she was on a shopping excursion with a friend some years ago that the Wauwatosa resident, now 77, spotted her dream car for sale on the side of the road — a 1965 black Mercedes-Benz.
"I said, 'Stop! Stop! That's my car!'" Ross said, describing the encounter. She bought it on the spot.
It was, by chance, a vehicle once said to be owned by actress and comedian Roseanne Barr and her then-husband Tom Arnold. Ross produced paperwork showing their names on the warranty.
"I thought, 'Isn't this a nice gift,'" Ross said. "I always loved Roseanne. She's the domestic goddess. I thought she was so funny."
Ross said she used to "laugh her head off" while watching the sitcom "Roseanne," in which Barr starred. How the vehicle ended up in Wisconsin is unknown to Ross.
"I never asked the (seller)," Ross said. "I just said, 'I'm taking it, get the paperwork ready.' I was too excited about finding it."
When the vehicle caught fire while Ross was driving through West Allis last month, it only followed that firefighters happened to be on scene when Ross pulled her vehicle over in front of Liquid Johnny's, 540 S 76th St. Ross said the vehicle driving in front of her belonged to the West Allis fire chief, and a second, off-duty firefighter was eating lunch inside. Both rushed to help, she said.
"Because of their fast and quick response, the car never went into flames," she said, adding that the restaurant staff provided her some snacks and a root beer. "Everyone was so pleasant and so supportive."
Wiring issues were the suspected cause of the fire, although there are many theories, Ross said.
Ross was born in De Pere, but moved to Milwaukee around age 13 to live with her grandparents after her mother fell ill with tuberculosis.
Early in her career, Ross worked as a registered nurse in the psychiatric unit at the Dewey Center, which now operates as a treatment and support center for those suffering from drug or alcohol addiction,
In another stroke of chance, albeit under gloomier circumstances, led Ross into the career she's held since 1973: yoga instructor.
When a close friend of hers who worked as a yoga instructor at a YMCA returned from a European trip with a bad cough — later determined to be lung cancer — she asked Ross to take over her classes.
Ross said that although she had practiced yoga independently, she didn't believe she was qualified to teach the classes when asked to take over the job permanently, even though the class had grown from seven to 40 students.
Ross opened her own yoga studio, A Center for Yoga, at 7810 W. Harwood Ave., where it has remained for decades.
"Most of my students stay with me, which is really quite amazing," she said. "There are students who have been here since the 1970s."
Ross said she used to appear on the now-discontinued television program "You & I," approximately 40 years ago. The program aired on Channel 6. She taught yoga to children in the community through the program, often bringing her own kids or her nieces and nephews onto the show to help teach the exercises.
Also making appearances on the show were stray animals that wandered onto Ross' property. She would introduce the animals to television viewers and adopt them out, she said.
These days, Ross teaches two yoga classes a week. She admits her life has been somewhat fortuitous.
"I have really weird coincidences," she said, with a laugh.