Russ Colburn, 83, died in the early hours of Nov. 2, 2013. His wife, Vera, was at his side. His daughters Kristina and Heather; grandchildren Maya and Alisdair; son-in-law Rob; and the caregivers at Ashley Gardens all had spent time with him during his last few days, providing love and comfort and saying their goodbyes.
Russ was born in Janesville, Wis., on Jan. 28, 1930, to Russell and Jean Colburn (Moen). Much of Russ' life was shaped by growing up during the Depression, and the turmoil of the World War II years. His family moved frequently during his school years, an experience viewed as exciting rather than difficult.
After high school, he spent four years in the U.S. Air Force
before returning to Wisconsin. Following his graduation from the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, Russ attended the University of Denver, receiving a master's degree in social work. In 1963, he became the director of Forest Heights Lodge, a residential treatment center for children and adolescents in Evergreen. A year later, he married Vera Fahlberg, who joined him in working at Forest Heights. Throughout his long professional career, he had a marked impact on the lives of many disturbed children and their families, and on many professionals in the field of mental health.
Russ retired from Forest Heights in 1995. He and Vera moved to Kitsap County, where they lived first in a home overlooking the Hood Canal, and then subsequently, as his health problems developed, in a home in Silverdale. Russ spent the last year and a half of his life at Ashley Gardens in Bremerton, Wash.
In June 2014, a celebration will be held in Evergreen, where his ashes will be placed at Forest Heights Lodge.
Memorial donations may be sent to Forest Heights Lodge, P.O. 789, Evergreen, CO 80437.