Gordon James Russell

Saturday, May 1, 2021
Gordon James Russell
Gordon James Russell

Gordon James "Jim" Russell passed away on April 24, 2021 at the age of 85 after a lengthy battle with multiple myeloma.

Gordon was born on May 25, 1935 in Minneapolis, Minnesota to Harold and Maude Russell. His family in Minnesota always called him "Jim." He grew up in Minneapolis, but spent a good portion of his life at the family's cabin on Sorensen Lake, near Brainerd, Minnesota. This shaped his love of nature at a young age and inspired his artwork throughout his life. He went to school in Minneapolis and graduated from Patrick Henry High School in 1954. He attended the University of Minnesota and later graduated from St. Cloud University. Gordon had a degree in Education with endorsements in Industrial Arts, Art, and Traffic Education.

Gordon served in the Army National Guard of Minnesota starting in 1955 until he was honorably discharged in 1961. His duties were military police and infantry.

On a hunting trip with his teaching mentor, Mr. Savage, Gordon fell in love with Montana and lived in Lewistown the rest of his life. He accepted the art teacher position at the Lewistown Junior High School in 1960.

He met his first wife, Sheila Graham, while building sets for a theater production that Sheila was in. Gordon and Sheila passed on their artistic abilities to their three children: Renee, Lisa, and James.

Gordon was a talented carpenter and artist and shared many of his creations with friends and family. He enjoyed camping, motorcycling, fishing, archery, hunting, and rebuilding antique .22 rifles.

Gordon said he never bought a greeting card because he always wanted to make his own. His family has many cards he made over the years and they were unique and special.

Gordon taught thousands of students over the years and affected the lives of many people. Whether his student was a good artist or not he inspired them. Gordon also taught Driver's Education classes from 1966 to 2003. He loved teaching and seeing his former students years later. He was happy when a former student remembered him.

Gordon's wife of 39 years, Sheila, died in January of 2002. He then married Bonnie Kaaro and they enjoyed traveling around Montana and going to gun and antique shows together. Gordon's last few years were challenging due to declining health, but with Bonnie's encouragement he kept building and creating in his workshop and art room. He attended his Patrick Henry High School reunion in 2016, and created enough handcrafted wood boxes and small pastel paintings with easels to give to a hundred classmates. Gordon was always generous with his time and talent.

Gordon is survived by his wife of 19 years, Bonnie Kaaro Russell; his children, Lisa Russell and James Russell; his granddaughter, Leah Russell, and her children, Josie and Kendall; his sister and brother-in-law, Donna and James Larson, and their children Kim, Jeff, Greg, and Cory; stepdaughter, Gracia Barr and her husband P.J. Barr and their children Alicia, Garrett, Kyle, and Jarod; stepson, Jim Sandman; and stepdaughter, Cindy Cordova. Gordon was preceded in death by his parents, Harold and Maude Russell; his first wife, Sheila Russell; and eldest child, Renee Russell.

A memorial service will be held at Celebration Church on May 8, 2021 at 2 p.m. Gordon's family would like to thank CMMC Hospice for their compassionate care.

Arrangements are under the care of Creel Funeral Home. Gordon’s family and friends can share memories and condolences at www.creelfuneralhome.com.

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