Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

Warren "Russ" Neil, Jr.

 

January 16, 2020

Warren Russ Neil

Warren "Russ" Neil

Warren R."Russ" Neil, Jr., passed away at the age of 72, at Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles, Wash., on December 28, 2019, from complications from a stroke. Family and friends were with him.

He was born in Spokane, Wash., on September 18, 1947, to Warren R. Neil and John (Storey Pierce) Neil. The family moved to Colfax to open Neil Tire when Russ was a toddler. He graduated from Colfax High School in 1965. Russ was senior class president, very involved in school activities, and participated in football and track. He was a smart and strong lineman, creating holes for the running backs and terrorizing opposing offenses in football. He was also on the community swim team. At a swim competition at Lake Penticton, BC, famous for its lake monster, Ogopogo, Russ earned the nickname Pogo.

Upon graduation from the University of Washington in 1969, with a degree in chemical engineering, Russ went to work for what was then Calgon Corporation (later Merck), as a water treatment specialist. He rose rapidly in Calgon's sales and management positions - managing offices in various southwest and mid-west states, before being promoted to a position at Calgon's home office. In his late 30s, Russ was diagnosed with MS. Although he was fortunate to keep it well managed, the disease ultimately caused his early retirement.

Russ married Lois Russman in Pittsburgh, Pa., on August 5, 1973. She was also an employee of Calgon, rose rapidly within the company and ultimately became a marine water specialist with a major chemical company. She died at their home in Long Valley, N.J., in October of 2007, after a long battle with cancer.

Working through his grief over Lois' passing, Russ became involved in a grief counseling organization called Hearts of Hope. He was very active in the organization and eventually became a member on its national Board of Directors. His fellow board members have praised Russ for his gentle wisdom and leadership.

Russ returned to his beloved Pacific Northwest in 2012 and settled in Sequim, Wash., to be near his brother Leonard Pierce and sister-in-law Mary Pfaff-Pierce.

Mr. Neil enjoyed the latest technology, travel, being reacquainted with his haunts in the Pacific Northwest, and becoming a philanthropist. He was active in the Sequim Relay for Life and the local MS chapter.

Russ was predeceased by his parents, brother Jack Pierce, sister B.G. Neil and his beloved wife Lois. Survivors include his brother Leonard Pierce and wife Mary of Joyce, Wash.; nephews Wes Pierce of Everett, Wash., and Lee Pierce of Chicken, AK, and life-long best friend, Bob Appel and his wife, Melanie of Shelton, Wash.

The family suggests memorials to a charity of choice. No services are planned at this time.

 

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