Obituary of Betty (Sowell) Russo
Betty (Sowell) Russo passed away from complications of a sudden
stroke March 31, 2020, at the age of 84. Her family was by her side.
The daughter of Ernest Sowell and Mildred Raney, she was born in
Berkeley, California before moving in her early teens with her father
and his wife Katherine, and the growing family, to a dairy farm outside
of Grass Valley – now known as Alta Sierra.
Betty was a proud member of the first graduating class of Nevada
Union High School in 1953. Soon after, she moved back to Berkeley,
where she met and married the love of her life, Rick Russo. They
settled in Alameda, California with their two children, Lori and David.
At the age of 32, Betty enrolled at Chabot College where she fulfilled
her lifelong dream of becoming a nurse. After graduating with a BS in Nursing, she quickly realized Emergency Room nursing was her vocation. For many years she was a much loved and respected ER nurse at Alameda Hospital, before she and her husband relocated to Grass Valley where they built a home. Betty worked in the ER of Sierra Nevada Hospital for over 30 years, and also served as the Hospital Ambulance Coordinator for many years before her retirement.
Over the years, Betty was an active volunteer with the local Red Cross and was an integral part of their annual disaster preparedness exercise. Among many other such activities, she helped organize and staff the Red Cross booth at the annual county fair. In addition, Betty started a dove release business, Celebration Aloft! Her beautiful birds graced the skies over many years of celebrations and were a labor of love for her in every way.
After retirement, Betty and Rick built a house together in Sun City, Lincoln, California. It was here that she lost her beloved husband of 43 years to Scleroderma. Choosing to remain at Sun City, Betty became a much loved member the community. Blessed with a wonderful singing voice, she especially relished whole-hearted participation in the community’s musical theatre scene, where she made many lasting friends. She remained in Sun City until 2016 when she decided it was
time to return to Grass Valley to be closer to her extended family.
Betty is survived by her daughter, Lori Kay (Kent) of Athol, MA and her son David Russo (Kelly) of Grass Valley, CA; her grandchildren: Anthony, Jordan, Jesse, Christopher, Kaydee and Jackie; and her nine great-grandchildren: Joshua, Owen and Emery; Simeon, Vance and Sienna; Zachary, Charlotte and Juliet. Betty came from a large extended family: her brothers: Ernest, John Wayne, Walter, Stuart and Douglas, and sister Jean; her many nieces and nephews, and their grandchildren
and great-grandchildren. She will be greatly missed by her dear friends, and the many, many others whose lives she touched
over the years.
Additionally, the family would like to thank the caring staff of Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, her physician Dr. Elizabeth Claydon, and everyone else who helped ease Betty’s passing and gave comfort to the family during this extraordinary and difficult time; including the staff of Eskaton Village, and especially her caregivers Emily and Tina who helped her maintain her independence.
A celebration of Betty’s life is planned later in the year… date is to be determined as things unfold. The family encourages donations in Betty’s memory to the Christian Encounter Ranch, Grass Valley, CA.
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