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Age 80, of Valencia, Pennsylvania, beloved husband and best friend to Cora Anne (Ewing) Matchett; treasured father to Michele Matchett (Gillespie); and adored grandfather to Jackson (Jack) Connor Matchett Gillespie and Katherine (Katie) Macallan Matchett Gillespie, passed away holding the hands of his loved ones that he laughed with, lived for and loved on September 12, 2017. He was preceded in death by his mother, Katherine Haines Matchett and his father, Andrew Jackson Matchett. Known for his determination, straight talking and dry wit, Russ was an incredibly intelligent man who enjoyed technology and cars, had a lifetime love of learning and dirt track motor racing and was involved in a wide variety of activities throughout his life. He was a proud member of the Gourgas Lodge of Perfection Masonic Lodge, 32nd degree, and a member of the Scottish Rite Freemasonry - he received a 50 years of service award in 2008. Russ was born in Penn Hills, PA and graduated from Penn Hills High School in 1955, but lived most of his life in Valencia, PA. After high school, he began working as a machinist and then as a scientific glassblower at Gulf Research in Harmarville, PA. Although he was drafted in the Army, he was unable to serve when they found out that he had Type II diabetes during his medical screening. This discovery led to Russ' lifelong battle with the disease that eventually led to dialysis, two kidney transplants, heart bypass, an experimental heart valve, detached retinas, toe amputations, a heel amputation and in the last year of his life, complete blindness. Throughout all of his medical issues, Russ never lost his ability to overcome his medical challenges with grit and a sense of humor. Russ' lifelong passion of dirt track motor racing led him to be part of the Swartzlander racing team in 1960. That year Russ would go on to win the season championship in the modified coupe division at Pine Grove Speedway, located in Shippenville, PA. Russ never lost his love of racing and was, in fact, an on-air radio personality in the late 1970s for a local auto racing show on WBUT in Butler where he gave color commentary on local motor racing. He then put together a successful go-cart racing team in the 1980s which included his daughter and led the two of them on many adventures and track championships. Russ also sponsored a micro-sprint in the early 1990s. During his lifetime, Russ owned a variety of businesses including an independent glassblowing workshop, a neon sign business, a card and hobby shop, a restaurant, and a NASCAR collectibles shop. In the final years of his life, Russ embarked on what he considered to be one of his most important achievements - the founding of the Glade Run Lake Conservancy which, after five long years, led to the restoration of Glade Run Lake in the spring of 2017. Russ said that his greatest legacy is his two grandchildren, Jack and Kate of whom he was so proud. "Life," he said, "goes by in a blink of an eye. Remember, we are all just passing through." A Memorial Service will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 24, 2017, at the First Presbyterian Church of Bakerstown, 5825 Heckert Road, Bakerstown, PA 15007. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to: The National Kidney Foundation; The Blind Association, serving Butler and Armstrong counties of Pennsylvania; The Diabetes Association. Sympathies may be expressed to the family online at www.

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Published in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Sep. 21 to Sep. 22, 2017.
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September 24, 2017
My dearest Cora and Michelle and families. Russ and I are so sorry to hear about Russell. He was such a happy and welcoming person every time we saw him. It has been a hard fought life I'm sure he had with such an illness that takes a piece of you a little bit at a time. I'm sure he fought like hell to be with you, Michell and her lovely family. May he enjoy that big track in heaven always loved talking Nascar with Russell. Russell and I send our thoughts and prayers to you and your family. Hold tight. (((((( ))))))
Russell and Janice Sanders
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