November 21, 1932 – September 2, 2020
Thomas (Tommy) Edwin Russell was born November 21, 1932 in the Slocan Valley. He was one of six children of Thomas and Virginia Russell. He spent his young life in Western Canada, working at various jobs, always seeking out an adventure and pioneering a way of life.
He was a leading figure in the lives of his siblings, nieces, and nephews. Once Tommy learned to fly a bush plane, he would pilot to remote areas to fish and explore.
His love of commercial fishing brought him to the North Island where he met the love of his life, Mary Bland who was living a rugged life on the Quatsino Sound homestead where she grew up. They were married in 1973 in Coal Harbour, B.C. where they first settled. Tommy and Mary had one son, Thomas Charles Russell in 1975.
Tommy was an enterprising man who purchased a 44 foot fiberglass hull in Seattle, towed it to Coal Harbour where he completed the construction of it himself. This boat he named the ‘North Island Star’ which became renowned in the salmon fishing fleet and would become the family’s seasonal home as they fished together over the years – Mary and Little Tom as deckhands. The family later moved to Port Hardy to be in town.
When Tommy wasn’t fishing he spent his time volunteering in salmon enhancement, regional politics, and various fishing organizations. He was a successful man who wouldn’t hesitate to help others get their start in life as well, providing money for their first homes and business ideas.
Later in life Tommy enjoyed sport fishing for spring salmon and became a master at smoking fish. He enjoyed hunting with his buddies and would often make a trek to the interior or Alberta to try his luck.
Tommy passed away on September 2, 2020 to a failing heart surrounded by his family in the Port Hardy Hospital. He is survived by his loving wife Mary, his son Thomas, and his grandchildren Adam and Marcus, sister Rosemary, and brother Edward (Carolyn), as well as many nieces and nephews. Tom was preceded in death, by brother Derrick, sisters Lorna, Joyce.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in his name to the North Island Seniors Housing Foundation, a project that he championed in recent years.
North Island Senior’s Housing Foundation
Box 1770, Port Hardy, B.C., V0N 2P0
A memorial service for Tommy will be held this Fall in Port Hardy for close friends and family.
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