TORRINGTON – Gerald Warren “Jerry” Russell, 89, passed away peacefully Sunday, March 29, 2020, at Central Wyoming Hospice surrounded by his devoted family.
Jerry was born July 27, 1930, to Warren S. and Berea (Vandel) Russell in Henry, Neb. Spending his early years there, he had many adventures and often compared them to a chapter out of Huckleberry Finn. He played alongside the river, visited hobo camps and frequently rode in a steam engine with his dog and bicycle to and from Torrington, where he visited his grandparents at their section house. As a natural born entrepreneur and salesman, at age 8, Jerry started his first business buying three candy bars for a dime and selling them each for a nickel to workers along the railroad. When he was 11, the family moved to Torrington. During his teenage years, he kept himself busy doing various jobs, including driving a milk truck at age 14 and making deliveries.
Jerry graduated from Torrington High School in 1948 and joined the U.S. Marine Corps where he served for a little over a year.
Jerry moved to Cheyenne in 1950 and went to work for the Wyoming Highway Patrol. He married Joanne Lang and in 1951 their daughter, Jacka Lynn, was born. Later, he and Joanne divorced.
Jerry transferred to Casper in 1952 to open Casper’s first Highway Patrol Check Station. Later he went to work for Visco Oilfield Chemicals.
In 1954 he married Shirley Marlatt in Torrington. The celebrated 65 years of marriage on Dec. 26, 2019.
Jerry and Shirley later moved to Worland, where their first daughter, Jennifer, was born in 1957. Shortly afterwards he was transferred, with his family, to Venezuela. He was named Manager of the South American Operation and lived and worked there until 1959. From there he was transferred to Wichita Falls, Texas, and in 1960 their youngest daughter, Meredith, was born. In 1962 they returned to Casper.
From 1964 to 1972 Jerry worked for Studer Tractor selling heavy machinery. He had a notable adventure in 1967 when he, along with Gordon Studer, were hunting guides for the distinguished General Doolittle on a bighorn sheep expedition into the Wind River Mountains.
In 1972, Jerry pioneered the first distribution business of underground utilities in the state of Wyoming. His business also included the sales of pumps and engineered systems. He was the founder and CEO of what became known as Waterworks Industries Inc./Russell Industries Inc. His company grew and expanded into a very successful business serving Wyoming, Montana and portions of bordering states. Jerry loved what he did and loved to work and was still very active and involved in the business up until the time of his death. His motto always was: “Working People are Happy People”.
Jerry was well known and highly respected for his hard work, business integrity and honesty and incredible wit. He was also a very loving and committed husband, father, grandfather, friend and employer. He also had an abundance of love for all animals, taking in many strays and creatures in need.
Jerry was preceded in death by his parents Warren and Berea Russell.
He is survived by his wife Shirley; brother Jim (Barbara) Russell of Billings, Mont.; daughters Jacki (Glen) Gray of Wiggins, Colo., Jennifer (David) Bailey of Casper, Meredith (Lewis) Stock of DouglasY; grandchildren Patricia (Dave) Goddard, Natalie Gray, Heide Gray, Dawn (Joe) Armatys, Hilary (Billy) Cage, Whitney (Peter) Lang; nine great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren; many cousins, nephews and nieces; and his very special friend Ed Sommers.
Due to the current circumstances, the family will hold private graveside services on Monday, April 6th. When it is permitted, the family will host a grand celebration in Jerry’s honor, and all will be welcome.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to a charity of your choosing. To share a special message with the family, please visit www.NewcomerCasper.com