Russell Burr passed away on Friday, March 1st, 2019 at his home in Napa, CA. He was born on September 1, 1945 in Denver, CO to Betty Mae Burr. His father, Harrison Russell Burr II, had been killed in action in World War II prior to Russ’s birth. Russ spent his toddler years in Denver with his mother, aunt and grandmother before Betty and Russ moved to Angwin, CA, so she could attend Pacific Union College (PUC). It was there that she met Richard Rehngren. When they married, Richard filled the role of dad for Russ and their family was complete when Russ’s sister Christina was born, making him a proud big brother.
Russ completed all his education in Angwin and graduated from PUC in 1967 with a Business Administration degree. His first job was at Shell Oil in San Francisco. Discovering that a desk job was not how he wanted to spend his life, he ventured into construction, building a reputation as a fine craftsman with his natural ability to envision, create and restore beautiful homes and wineries. He also enjoyed teaching construction at PUC. Russ spent the last years of his career working for Peju Winery, building the beautiful tower and tasting room, and serving as the facilities manager.
While in college, Russ met his first wife, Francene; the couple married in 1968. They had two sons, Jason Russell and Alexander Harrison. In 1997, longtime friends introduced Russ to Gail, who became the love of his life. Russ and Gail were married in August, 2004 at Peju Winery in the tower that he had built. They enjoyed a life together filled with friends and family, motorcycle rides, hiking, skiing and travel.
In early 2013, Russell suffered a major stroke, which was a shock to all. While recovery and rehab required great effort, Russell’s eternal optimism and support from family and friends helped him reach a place where he could once again participate more fully in life. In the spring of 2017 tragedy struck again when Russ sustained a traumatic brain injury from a fall. Recovery was much more challenging; his valiant efforts are now over and he is at rest.
Russell is survived by his wife Gail, sons Jason and Alex, sister Christina (Gary), two nieces, Kelsi (Randy) and Jacque (Tyler) and nephew Brogan, as well as beloved extended family. Gail’s children, Michael (Heidi) and Christy (Shaun) considered Russ a treasured part of the family, and a wonderful grandpa to Hannah, Gabriel, Olive and Ansel.
Russ loved his family and friends and we loved him. His kind-hearted, loyal, creative, fun-loving and generous soul will be dearly missed and forever in our hearts. A celebration of life will be held at the Magnolia Room 1299 Pine Street, St. Helena, CA, on Friday, March 22 at 1pm. As an expression of sympathy, memorial contributions may be made to Queen of the Valley Foundation or the National Parks Foundation. Services under the direction of Treadway and Wigger Funeral Chapel, Napa, CA.