Jerry Cairns Russell was the first child of Ward Cairns Russell and Frances Owens Russell. He was born in Berkeley, California on Aug. 8, 1936. He passed peacefully on Dec. 2, 2021, surrounded by his wife, Marilyn and two best friends in New Haven Care Home in Livermore, California.
He had struggled with Parkinson’s disease for the past eight years, although the last two were the most challenging for an active outdoorsman. He received exceptional care from the New Haven staff, Hope Hospice nurses, ComForCare and the Nuclear Care Program nursing staff.
Jerry attended schools in Berkeley and graduated from Berkeley High School in 1954. He lived in the hills below the Lawrence Hall of Science when it was open space. He enjoyed hiking, exploring and hunting with his bow and favorite dog. In fact, he got his first buck in 1952 probably at the site of Lawrence Hall! He then majored in industrial engineering (time and motion studies) at San Jose State. (Jerry was always precise and a perfectionist!). He enjoyed being on the rifle team. He left before graduation to enlist in the Army and served in Germany (1959-62) where he worked on tanks and honed his skills as a machinist. After his service he was employed as a mechanical technician in the Nuclear Test Engineering Division at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory for 30 years (1963-1993). Jerry could fix, repair, design or create structures from the most detailed tiny fittings to building barns and fences! He had a complete workshop and enjoyed making equipment for the ranch and could repair almost anything. He was an accomplished taxidermist.
Jerry met Marilyn in 1965 at the Oakland Airport on a research project studying burrowing owls. They were married on June 3,1967 and had 54 amazing years together. Although child-free, many wonderful young friends have lived in the Russell household and experienced many adventures with them. Captain Dr. Mark Nguyen (US Navy, active duty), Jennifer Dzakowic Byous, Masha Bychkova Grohman, Pattie Seale Davis, Catherine (Indi) Young and Melissa McKean Hawkins to name a few. After retirement Jerry enjoyed many incredible hunting trips and lots of international travel,
including Africa, Mexico, Canada and South America. His most favorite activity was camping, hunting and visiting with friends and family at the 5000-acre Sagehorn-Russell Ranch in Mendocino County that has been in Marilyn’s family since 1948. He always enjoyed sharing his love of the outdoors and observing wildlife with others. He kept meticulous records which he shared with the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at UC Berkeley. He donated generously to various conservation organizations.
He was preceded in death by his parents and sister, Carol Warshauer.
There will be no services. However, a celebration of life will be planned in springtime. His cremains will be placed at the Memorial Rock on the ranch in a private ceremony.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: California Waterfowl Association, Ducks Unlimited, Mule Deer Foundation, Parkinson's Foundation, California Rangeland Trust, Hope Hospice or charity of your choice.
Jerry was quiet and reserved but loved by his many friends for his zest for life, energy, and tireless willingness to help others. He was kind, generous, patient, thoughtful and very capable. He also had a keen sense of humor and often a unique perspective. He will be missed, most of all by Marilyn for he was always the “wind beneath her wings.” May he soar with the eagles now.
Callaghan Mortuary is honored to be serving the Russell family. An online guest book is available for condolences at callaghanmortuary.com.