Russ was one of my favorite people, the best kind of political activist with plenty of energy and good will and a sense of humor. In recent years, our favorite event of the holiday season has been to go to his and Arlene's house on Christmas Eve for a seafood feast: oysters on the half shell, soup, dessert and whatever dish anyone cared to bring. We like to bring shrimp jambalaya. I'm not much of a party guy, but the food is always great, Russ was a first-rate host, and the crowd was so interesting that I always looked forward to it.
In fact, Russ left a long, rambling telephone message on our machine yesterday about this year's event. He said he was counting on us for the jambalaya. We were in full production at The Outpost yesterday, so I didn't hear the message until this afternoon. By that time, Russ was already dead, although I didn't know it at the time.
It's a sad day.
UPDATE: This from Ray Tracy, chairman of the Yellowstone County Democratic Central Committee:
It’s with a very heavy heart that I inform you that this morning Russ Brown passed away. Russ’ death was from natural causes but was also unexpected and tragic. If anybody knew Russ, they knew his life was all about Montana politics and helping out in any way he could. Russ was known for his spirited character, his capacity for vibrant debate, and volunteerism. His wisdom, experience, and cheerful presence will be deeply missed by all who knew him.
I will announce Russ’ memorial service as soon as it’s known.
In the meantime, please take care of yourselves and treasure every moment with each other.
UPDATE 2: Russ Brown’s memorial service will be at 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 28, at the Elks Club. Donations may be made an environmental organization of your choice.