Generous Craig gave with great humility

Jessica CuthbertAlbany Advertiser
Craig Russell
Camera IconCraig Russell

The family of Craig Russell, whose sudden death has rocked several groups in the community, says he will be remembered for his kindness, compassion and his faith.

The father of four was playing hockey at the Albany hockey turf on Wednesday, June 19 when he suffered a heart attack.

Members of the public assisted Mr Russell, attempting CPR until help arrived.

The 53-year-old was flown to Perth but he died on Wednesday last week from complications related to the heart attack.

The family said his death was a complete shock but they took comfort in knowing he would save lives through organ donations.

“Dad was in a unique position being so young and healthy to bring joy to many families through organ and tissue donation,” daughter Bethany Findlay said.

“Through our loss we know that many other people have been given life which brings us all great comfort and joy at this time.”

Neralie Russell said her husband was involved in a range of groups and clubs around Albany.

He was passionate about music, his work and his faith — and he loved being outdoors.

Neralie and Craig Russell with children Hayden Russell, Bethany Findlay and Katelyn and Cameron Russell
Camera IconNeralie and Craig Russell with children Hayden Russell, Bethany Findlay and Katelyn and Cameron Russell

Mrs Russell described him as a gentle and humble man. “He loved exercising and being outside, growing veggies or playing hockey or bike riding,” she said.

Mr Russell was a UWA laboratory analyst in agriculture and environment, as well as a tutor in the undergraduate program.

People often called him “Dr Dirt”.

His two sons, Hayden and Cameron, said their father always took an interest in whatever his children were passionate about.

“He was quirky, he was very book smart but if you were telling jokes he would never understand them — he had that classic dad humour,” Hayden said.

Mrs Russell said her husband never belittled anyone.

“One thing I always appreciated right from when I first met him — it doesn’t matter who asked what question, he would always say ‘That’s a good question’,” she said.

Ms Findlay said her father was an ardent musician, who was recently recognised for his 10 years in the Albany City Wind Ensemble.

“He played trumpet in the ACWE and mum plays the trombone. In fact, I think we’ve all dabbled in music,” she said.

“He was involved in the Brekkie Club at Mt Lockyer Primary school where every Monday he would give breakfast to kids who often came to school hungry, he was passionate about giving back and helping people.”

Craig and Neralie Russell
Camera IconCraig and Neralie Russell

His wife said he had a deep love for God.

“He loved the Lord. His biggest attribute was his faith in God. Everything he did stemmed from his love for the Lord and love for his community,” she said.

Mrs Russell said the family appreciated the community’s support and were grateful to those who tried to save him at the hockey turf.

“We are so grateful to those people who were there that day, assisting with CPR, we are just so thankful to the people. They did everything they could and that means the world to us,” she said.

“Our church, Oceans Church have been so unbelievably supportive these past few weeks and leading up to the funeral.”

The funeral is at 1.30pm on Monday, July 8 at Oceans Church. It is open to the public.

Tributes for much-loved member of Albany family

“Craig was a well-respected and much-loved member of our UWA family. He brought “heart” to his professionalism, in both his research and teaching capacities. He will be remembered by colleagues and students for his passionate commitment, his reliability and the kind and generous approach to everything he did. He was always the first to put up his hand to go into local schools, to participate in events like Science Rocks or run sessions for school students at UWA. He will be sadly missed by us all.”

-University of Western Australia, Albany

“Craig played trumpet with Albany City Wind Ensemble for over 10 years, serving on the committee for two. Craig performed in over 60 concerts including Cushion Concerts for Kids, Fundraising concerts for YouthCARE, and local and regional tours. Craig was always up for some fun, providing much laughter on skit nights. Craig was a real giver — of both his time and his talents. He was always the first person to roll up his sleeves and help wherever it was needed. He was a very intellectual person, but very humble in his achievements. He had a wealth of knowledge but genuinely cared about other people’s opinions. Craig’s concern for other people was sincere. He was the ‘dad’ of the trumpet section, caring for and encouraging the younger players. He is leaving a big hole in the ACWE family.

-Sue Findlay, Albany City Wind Ensemble director

Craig will be remembered as a member of the Vikings Hockey Club B Grade men’s team, where he played his hockey as a senior in Albany. His best work however was done in supporting his fellow players, mentoring the younger guys and always wanting to gain a greater understanding of the game. It was whilst participating in the sport he loved that he fell ill. His genuine love of the game, fellowship and inquisitive mind will be missed but not forgotten. He made the ‘left wing’ his own and we will remember him fondly for his contribution to our team and the sport.

-Vikings Hockey Club

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