February 7, 1955 – January 12, 1999

Michael J. Russell was born in San Francisco, California on February 7, 1955, to parents Bob and Lenore Russell. The family moved to Carbondale, Illinois, where Michael graduated from Carbondale High School. He was an outstanding athlete and captain of his football team as well as a talented actor who starred in his high school plays.

Michael married Wendy Freitag and moved to Hawaii from 1976 to 1978. It was in Hawaii where Michael was “tagged” with the nickname “Madness” because of his reputation to surf the “Pipeline” at times when no one else would dare to do so on the north shore of Oahu.

The Russell family moved to Santa Cruz, California in 1979 and attended Bethany College. At that time, Michael’s spiritual search led him to the Orthodox Christian faith, in which he was ordained a Deacon in 1987. The parishioners of his church loved to see him serve and hear his beautiful voice during the Divine services in the San Lorenzo Valley. Michael is the father of daughter Megan and two sons, Justin and Jared.

For 18 years, Michael owned and administrated his successful business, Michael J. Russell Hardwood Floors, while teaching the trade to his eldest son Justin. “Deacon” Michael, as he was affectionately known, was the loving husband and friend of his wife of 22 years. This powerful man with his famous “bear hugs” and ready laughter will always be remembered by all those who knew him, whether at church, work, or play.

Having passed from this life at 43 years of age, vitality, joy of life, and with the strength of a bear, leaves behind a legacy of friendship, love, and faith in God. Along with his wife and treasured children and parents, Michael leaves three brothers, Bob, John Patrick and Matthew, six godchildren, and a huge family which extends beyond his relatives. Everyone knows that if you met Michael, you liked him. If you knew Michael, you loved him. May his memory be eternal!

[source: St. Nektarios Brotherhood]