Obituary of Russell Wade Steele
Russell Wade Steele 1938-2020
Russell Wade Steele was born July 20th, 1938, in Nevada City, California, to Margaret and Bert Steele. Russ graduated from high school in Salmon, Idaho, in 1956. He started a degree in broadcast communication at Idaho State University in Pocatello, leaving to join the United States Air Force in 1960, where he became an Electronics Warfare Officer in B-52s.
Russ is survived by his wife Ellen, four daughters, three sons-in-law, and four grandchildren. He fell head over heels for Ellen Hollingshead the night they met in 1962. The couple married in December 1963 at Christ Episcopal Church in Bethany, Connecticut, and enjoyed 56 beautiful years together. Russ enjoyed being the father to his daughters, Jessica, Rachael, Heather, and Caitlin. He welcomed his sons-in-law Darrin, John, and Wade, with open arms. Russ was a dedicated grandfather to Nolan, Anika, Aidan, and Laurel.
Russ was promoted early and often in the Air Force but always prioritized time with his family. Russ received many recognitions in the military, including Air Force Commendation and National Services Defense medals. He attended and graduated from Squadron Officer School, Air Command and Staff College, and Industrial College of the Armed Forces. In 1973, Russ received a B.A. in Political Science from Troy University Montgomery in Alabama. He served in northern Thailand with a 14-month tour as the commander of a Radar Bomb Scoring site.
Russ retired as a Lt. Colonel in 1980, ending his twenty years of service in electronics warfare and digital systems. The family moved to Nevada City, and he worked until his retirement as an engineering lab manager for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company. Not one to sit still in his golden years, Russ next served as a co-founder and CEO for Nevada County Community Network, a non-profit internet service provider. He became an expert on rural broadband, consulting into his late 70s for the Grass Valley Economic Resource Council and Sierra Business Council.
In retirement, Russ and Ellen traveled extensively around North America, and to Europe and Australia, but they most enjoyed camping in their 2001 Airstream trailer. Russ enjoyed writing, with hundreds of contributions in The Union newspaper in Grass Valley, California. He published Cobalt, a book about the history of America’s only native source of the precious metal and his time working at the Blackbird Mine in Idaho. His articles appeared in numerous magazines, including Comstock’s Magazine, the Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Airstream, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.
Russ and Ellen relocated to Lincoln, California, in 2016. His initial cancer diagnosis slowed him down, but he used that time in his favorite chair to learn to code. After completing the University of Michigan online course “Python for Everybody,” Russ used his knowledge to create data visualizations for personal entertainment and use on his multiple blogs. He published blog posts daily until the end.
Russell passed away at home with his family on January 3rd, 2020. He lived a full life as a husband, father, serviceman, and all-around renaissance man. Always an excellent host, Russ loved to share food and enthusiastically welcomed guests to the house with a ready beverage. Known for his intellect, epistemic curiosity, generous heart, and sense of humor, Russ will be missed by all whose lives he touched. A private celebration of life will be held for friends and family on March 28th, 2020, in Lincoln.
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