February 2, 1965 – February 8, 2021
It is with great sadness that we announce the sudden passing of Russ on February 8, 2021 at his residence in Armstrong BC. Russ was a loving and devoted husband, father, son, brother, uncle, and friend. He will be carried in the hearts forever of his wife Dianne; his two daughters Uma and Iyla; father Roy (Arlene), brother Brad (Kym), sisters Brenda Buerge (Dave) and Katrina (Fraser), nephew Reuben (Kendal), nieces Ashley Cowan (Dan) and Nicola, mother-in-law Jacqueline Cowan, sister-in-law Robin Cowan, many extended family members, and close friends. Russ was predeceased by his mother Lila Ballance.
Russ was born in White Rock, BC. His love for gatherings of friends and family began early on growing up in Kamloops where their home was always full with food, music, and celebration. After graduation Russ began his travel and cultural adventures overseas (Tibet, India, Asia, Europe, and the UK) that fostered his love of the arts, diversity, and global world perspective. Russ believed in community and was always striking up conversations with neighbours and anyone he met along the way. He was happiest when he was helping others. This sense of service supported him in making the unconventional choice to pursue a career in nursing where he explored many specialities before finding his passion and gift in mental health. His career spanned 25+ years; the last 17 years with the Interior Health Authority where he touched many lives; both patients and colleagues, with his humour, giant heart, quick smile, and approachable nature. He was an innovator (sometimes unconventional) and a strong advocate for the field of mental health and substance use. Russ was a mentor to many and earned the respect of all that had the pleasure of working with him over the years.
Russ loved the outdoors and enjoyed spending time golfing (having just achieved his first hole-in-one this fall!), fishing (annual fishing trip with his dad on the coast was a favourite), hunting (not so lucky but he enjoyed the experience regardless), gardening, and playing outside. He was an avid Canucks fan, evidence by his loud coaching comments during games. Russ also had a passion for cars (from his first VW van) and riding his motorcycle; he was lucky enough to win a once in a lifetime Triumph Motorcycle trip from Spain to Morocco. One of his dreams was to take his family on an adventure trip, which we were able to fulfill in the summer of 2019 in Cambodia and Vietnam. Russ was able to share his memories and love of culture throughout the trip, eat some of his favourite Pho noodle soup, and create some very memorable experiences with his three girls.
Russ was an incredible human being. He was goofy (rarely posed for a picture without making funny faces), loving (hugs for everyone), brilliant (his mind never stopped, a true deep thinker), creative (could make up a song or story in a moment), always in motion and doing many things at once, and loved our family traditions (from Birthday ‘Eve’ & ‘Boxing Day’ to hand painted Father’s Day shirts he wore proudly). His smile and laughter lit up the entire room, and he looked mighty fine in his kilt. Russ lived his motto of ‘Family First’; family meant everything to him and it showed each and every day.
Music was in his soul. He always had music on in the background and many of his favourite adventures involved concerts (live or recorded), choosing and creating playlists, and playing his music game (name that song/band). Songs meant something to him; through the lyrics or tied to special memories. In celebration of his life we ask that you listen to a song and raise a toast to Russ.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions a celebration of Russ’s life will be held in the future when we can all gather together again.
my deepest condolences to your family at your loss. i remember you fondly from school and reconnected back in 1992 briefly. may your family find peace at this time.
It is with great sadness that I heard the news of Russ’ passing. We were very”old” friends from a long time ago, growing up on Knollwood Crescent. He was definitely one of the good ones. Farewell my friend, warm thoughts for the family.
Dianne, Uma and Iyla, While words cannot always convey the true meaning of our thoughts, they are really all we have so I'll try. First, I want you to know that I truly loved your note - that it encapsulated the Russ that I knew - he would have been proud of it. Our family has moved north from Armstrong but we have many fond memories and I want to send thoughts and prayers from my family to yours in this toughest of times. I want you to know that I was never able to share how much I appreciated Russ with him but I hope he knew. His infectious attitude, his optimism, his laugh, his ability to use swear words as verbs and his unwavering support and love of those around him will be missed. Thanks for sharing Russ with us.
Russ hired me for my first RN job in Salmon Arm Community Care. He was always approachable and kind. We often had chats about our families and shared friends. Sending love to his family.
My heart is so heavy for Russ’s family. Russ always made you feel important when you approached him, giving you his full attention. His jovial personality will live in our hearts forever. Beside working on IPU with him, Russ and I go back to Chrysalis (mobile crisis) in Calgary in 1998/99. My deepest condolences go to Russ’s wife and children. Here’s to one wonderful man! XX Marj
Dianne, Uma & Iyla, I had the ultimate pleasure to work with Russ for many years at IH. He was a very unique and special individual - so kind, so thoughtful, so funny, and always someone that everyone wanted to hear his perspective and thoughts on whatever the topic of the day was. He brought a lens to meetings like no other. No words can express the sorrow I feel with his passing. I'm so very sorry for your loss.
We are greatly saddened to read of the loss of your beloved husband, Russ. Our family greatly enjoyed having your lovely family as neighbors when you first moved to Armstrong. We also so loved your gorgeous Burmese Mountain dogs....Skokie and Begbie! When you moved to your other house, we didn't see you as often, but really enjoyed running into you both occasionally. The last time I (Marty) ran into Russ was when he and Uma were out walking together. Russ was as friendly and neighborly as always! We still remember Russ playing with Uma when she was just a little girl having so much fun with her Daddy! May God bless and comfort you all in this time of great loss.
Like many who are reaching out, I worked closely with Russ at Interior Health. He was an enormous support to me and the team in long-term care always putting others first and keen to innovate. When I moved to mental health this support continued and I learned from him. He was more than a colleague but also a friend. Russ always showed up. It is a devastating loss. My deepest sympathies.
I did not know Russ well. I met him my very first day working at the Vernon Health Unit. He approached me and offered to help me out. I was extremely touched by his kindness and openness. Every subsequent time I met him, he was inviting and positive. I am saddened knowing I won't see him again and also feel blessed for having had the opportunity to meet him. From the obituary, it looks as though he was someone who lived a meaningful and grateful life. He set a great example for all of us. I send all of you my deepest condolences.
You and your beautiful girls Uma and Iyla are in my thoughts and in my heart at this sad and difficult time Dianne. Your tribute to Russ is lovely and speaks to a life well lived full with love, passion, travel, hard work, service and fun. Sending you love ❤️
I had the pleasure of working with Russ periodically. He was such a bright light and really radiated joy. He was passionate about life and it showed. I am so sorry to hear of his sudden passing and sending love and light to his family.
I was so shocked and saddened to hear the news of Russ’s passing. As an RN with Interior Health I had the wonderful opportunity to work under Russ when he was the Manager for Salmon Arm Community Care. During his short time there, he was instrumental in getting the new ANC clinic funded and renovations completed. He was first and foremost a manager for the front line workers and enjoyed any challenge that came his way. Our paths would again cross with his role as Manager of the Polson CBDU unit . I so looked forward to hearing his voice each week during our weekly teleconferences. Russ always had a joke to share, little jingle to sing and he brought many laughs to our weekly meetings. You could not have asked for a better advocate for mental health. He truly was an expert in his field. We as a team have lost a jewel.. To Dianne and his most cherished girls, you have my deepest condolences. Please know that Russ was much loved and respected with all that had the privilege of working with him.
I was honoured to have Russ as the manager of Shuswap Community Care. As an RN who had worked there for over 25 years Russ’s leadership was respected and appreciated. His energy and determination made it possible for the Ambulatory Clinic to expand. Russ was not afraid to push for what the program needed to provide service to community. I am so sad to hear of his passing and send my sympathy to his loved ones. Russ did make a difference in health care for all of us.
A beautiful tribute and reminder to live life in abundance ! May these special memories stay close to you always!
Dianne, I had the pleasure of meeting Russ several times at Cliff and Michele’s cabin over the past years. I didn’t know him well but realized quickly that he was a “glass half full”, proud family man. There is little comfort to be felt losing such a man at 56 but I hope, one day, the fact that he obviously didn’t waste a minute while on this earth will help. Sincere condolences, Barb Frame
I am deeply saddened by the loss of Russ. My heart and thoughts are with you all. May you find solace in the love that surrounds you.
Dianne I can't even begin to comprehend ...Russ and I shared many a laugh through work, a few martinis and I was so grateful to be friends with you and the family. I will be in touch. Much love
Our hearts are still breaking for the loss of Russ. He was the most special of special people. We are so very sorry and think of you, Uma and Iyla everyday. We hope that love and strength guide you through the pain.
May your heart find peace again in the difficult days ahead in the beautiful memories you have of Russ. Through his biography I see he was an exceptional human being who will be deeply missed. Heartfelt sympathies to you and your girls Dianne, you are in my thoughts and prayers. Sending love across the miles.
We are so sorry for your loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your girls ♥️
Dianne, I am so sorry and shocked to hear about Russ. My love and thoughts are with you and your lovely family. It has been too long since I saw you guys in person but you've been in my thoughts often. Facebook has helped us stay in touch too. It was luck to have Russ as a neighbour but a blessing to have become friends with him and through him, friends with you. I am so sorry for your loss. I am sending my love to you and the girls. DJ
Such a lovely tribute Dianne! Sending you and the girls our deepest condolences and much love. We are always here for you ❤️
Such a lovely tribute Dianne! He will be greatly missed ❤️ You made so many wonderful memories in his short time on this earth. Our hearts and love are with you
We send you and the girls our love and deepest condolences Dianne. Thinking of you every day.