Richard (Russ/Rick) Allen Russell, 76, passed away at home in Monticello, on Monday April 17, 2023.
He was born in Greenfield, MA on Sept. 3, 1946, the seventh of eight children born to Muriel and William Russell. His father died the year he turned age three leaving his mother to raise eight children alone. He moved to Indian Rocks Beach FL at age 14 with his mother and two siblings and graduated from Largo High School in 1964.
He joined the Air Force (1964-1968) and served his country in Vietnam.
He met Angie Raynor of Gillespie in Tampa FL while attending USF. He and Angie married in 1974, and moved to Gillespie in 1976.
Russ worked as a vocational evaluator/developmental specialist for Illinois Valley Rehabilitation Center. He researched, designed, drew plans for and built a 2600 sq ft super-insulated, passive solar home. Hiring only excavation and framing he did everything else himself with family and friends assistance over a 15 month period while working full-time. Russ obtained his MBA in 1988 and taught economics part-time evenings at area community colleges while working as a small business consultant for SIUE.
He was a founding member of Gillespie’s Partnership for Educational Excellence, helped start Gillespie’s first youth soccer league and was a soccer coach. Russ supported the Special Olympics and was a lifetime advocate for the developmentally disabled.
He was named director of UIUC’s Small Business Development Center and the family moved to Monticello in 1994.
An avid reader from a young age he enjoyed sharing book suggestions and reading interests. He obtained a Masters in Library Science at UIUC and worked for a time as a reference librarian in Coral Springs, FL.
He enjoyed genealogy and a favorite trip was to New England and Nova Scotia to do family research.
As a New Englander, the Boston RedSox were his favorite baseball team but he also supported the St. Louis Cardinals and enjoyed trips to Busch Stadium.
As per his wishes his body has been donated to Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
He is survived by his wife, Angie; sons, Colin (Tammy) of Cortland, Andrew (Danielle) of Champaign; six grandchildren, Ben (18) David (16), and Abbie (12), of Cortland, Bob (16), Madison (11) and Ainsley (2) of Champaign; parents-in-law, Leo and Eva Raynor; sister-in-law, Maleah Raynor; brothers, Dave (Terry) of Cumberland Falls, ME, Norman (Sharon) of Ashfield, MA; sisters, Ann (Dave) of Orlando, FL, Muriel of Colraine, MA; nephews, Christopher, Austin and Blake Raynor and niece Lacey Raynor.
He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers, Jim, Bill, Tom, and brother-in-law, Bill Raynor.
A memorial service washeld at the First United Methodist Church in Gillespie on Friday April 21, 2022 at 2 p.m. with visitation at 12:30 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Gillespie Partnership for Educational Excellence CUSD #7 or the Gillespie Public Library.
Kravanya Funeral Home is in charge.