September 2, 1942 – June 18, 2020
Russ was born in Appleton, Wisconsin, where he was free to explore the natural world surrounding his rural neighbourhood. His mother was a high school Science teacher and his father a microbiologist working in the food industry. In his early teens the family moved to California, where Russ continued to roam about – he spoke so fondly of the wild beauty of Mount Tamalpias.
On completing a Master’s Degree in microbiology from UC Davis, he and his first wife Kathleen dodged up to Canada – a move he described as one of the best decisions of his life.
Finding his work as a microbiologist at UBC too intellectually isolating, he tossed his textbooks and joined a commune. There he learned a whole new range of skills, travelling around BC as a house framer.
With his three children Russ finally settled in Nelson in the late 70’s. He and Margaret were married in 1984. He found work as a solar engineer, and then turned to work in service to others. Russ was instrumental in founding the Nelson Friendship Outreach Clubhouse, where he made many friends, and developed a deep respect for their lives of coping. He retired in 2002. He continued to engage in all of those activities – scientist, carpenter, solar engineer, quiet friend – throughout his life.
Family hiking and canoe trips in the West Kootenays were the norm, always hoping to see bears and other wildlife. With his family they established ties in Japan, Taiwan and within the Indigenous cultures in Canada, which he revelled in. He made several trips to the East, visiting family and having adventures. The highlight was his trek into Tibet in 2007.
While living in Vancouver in 1975 Russ heard a talk by Chogyam Trungpa, a Tibetan meditation master. He decided to follow that path of meditation, which he did with commitment and delight. Studying, meditating, and teaching the Shambhala Buddha Dharma, and creating situations for others to join in, were at the heart of his life. He was a Shastri for the Kootenay Shambhala Centre.
Russ died peacefully at home. He is survived by his wife Margaret McKeown; daughter Dawn Rodgers; sons Russell J. and his wife Jill, and Keith and his wife Naoko; six wonderful grandchildren – Lila Taylor, Zaria, Rohan, Ali, Saya and Laika Rodgers; and his Shambhala Buddhist community. Russ will be deeply missed.
We are all so grateful for the kind and excellent care he received during his illness, especially from Dr Malpass and all the nurses at KLH, as well as the nurses at Nelson Home Support.
A zoom service from the Kootenay Shambhala Centre has been held.
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