Russell Herbert Schultz (1951 - 2018)

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Russell Herbert Schultz, age 66, a resident of Leilani Estates, Pahoa, Hawaii, passed away peacefully on February 16, 2018. Born on August 20, 1951 in N. Tonawanda, New York to Herbert and Irene Schultz, he is survived by his much-loved mother and his sisters Laurie (Dennis) Orwat of Aiken, South Carolina and Cindy (Eugene) Giuseppetti of N. Tonawanda, New York; nieces Christie, Melissa, and Sarah, nephews Rob and DJ.

Russ grew up in N. Tonawanda and graduated from N. Tonawanda High School in 1969. After graduation, he loaded up his Land Rover and headed out on a trip to Alaska. Shortly into that adventure, Russ received word that his draft number had come up. He drew a two-year hitch in the Army, and after training schools in Texas, Russ was sent to Vietnam to be part of the 225th Phantom Hawk Surveillance Company. He flew as an observer in the OV-1 Mohawk aircraft on forward reconnaissance and observation missions. Russ extended his original two-year commitment to three years, and upon discharge returned home to N. Tonawanda. He attended college there until the lure of Alaska called him back north.

Russ spent approximately thirty years in Alaska, working at a variety of jobs: he worked on the North Slope Pipeline and for the University of Alaska, fished as both a hand troller and later as a gill-netter (aboard his boat, Genesee II); ran the downtown Juneau store, Captain's Choice Gifts (it was during his time at the gift shop that Russ took up glass-blowing, specializing in small whales and ice worms), and worked for the State of Alaska, finishing his career at the Department of Fish and Game.

After having lived in a yurt out the road for several years, Russ bought a house in Douglas and converted it into a four-plex. He did the work himself, and he considered it one of his greatest achievements. That renovation honed many skills that would come in handy later on. Russ also had quite a green thumb, as evidenced by the beautiful flower garden he kept at the four-plex.

In 2005, Russ bid farewell to Alaska and moved to the Big Island of Hawaii. It was on the slopes of Kilauea that he cleared land and built his beautiful home (to be shared with his treasured, independent jungle kitty, Pester). Russ had become an excellent carpenter and craftsman, and his home was a monument to his talent and abilities. Anthuriums grew in abundance on Russ's property, and several times a year he would delight stateside friends and family with gift boxes of those exotic flowers.

Russ was always quick to lend an able and experienced hand whenever needed. He became heavily involved in community affairs during his years in Hawaii, and was a major player in the upgrading of emergency response (CERT) as well as the building of bus stop shelters and a playground in Leilani Estates. Through the years, Russ and his trusty tractor helped many a friend and neighbor--and those same friends and neighbors were there for him during his final months.

Russ was one of a kind, and very much loved and cared about by all who knew him. He lived life on his own terms, and his life was rich with friends and family. If you knew Russ, then no occasion was complete without his presence. His wry sense of humor and observant wit were priceless. Understandably, his passing has left a hole in all of our hearts that cannot ever quite heal.

Fair Winds and Following Seas, Russ.
Published in The Juneau Empire from July 3 to Aug. 2, 2018