Russell Stout was born Jan. 28, 1922, in Lacombe, Alberta (Canada) and died Jan. 26, 2013, in Seattle, just two days before his 91st birthday. His parents named him for Charles M. Russell, who was famous for his depictions of cowboys and Indians and the American West.
Dad grew up on a farm in Deer Park, Wash., with his parents, Florence and John, and his sister and six brothers. He graduated from Deer Park High School in 1941, just months before the attack on Pearl Harbor. He entered military service in the early ’40s, serving for 18 months with the U.S. Army in Germany and central Europe during World War II. As part of a small radio intelligence unit, he traveled the back roads of Germany by Jeep to locate and monitor enemy supplies. It was dangerous work, but dad made it sound like a college road trip.
After World War II, he re-entered civilian life as a carpenter and home builder. He married his beloved girlfriend Mary Colagrossi in 1951, and they first lived in Holly Park and South Judkins Street before moving to Mercer Island in the mid-’50s when it was still somewhat rural. Mary was the daughter of Italian immigrants from Puglia, Italy. She grew up in a community of Italian American families on South Judkins and the Mt. Baker district.
My dad started his business in 1950. Over five decades, he built custom homes, “spec” homes and vacation houses, as well as a clinic, restaurant and auto dealership — mostly in the Greater Seattle area. Their only child, Gene, was born in 1952.
Russ and Mary built their first home on Mercer Island in 1956, followed by another new home in 1961. The latter was designed by notable Northwest architect Jerry Gropp and was what is now considered a classic “mid-century” home with a flat roof and wraparound deck. A creek flowed through the backyard.
In 1969, the Stout family moved to an existing house on the north end of Mercer Island (North Mercer Way), with a view of Meydenbauer Bay and the Bellevue skyline. Russ, Mary and Gene remained in this house for many decades, remodeling it several times.
Russ and Gene shared a keen interest in vintage cars, buying a number of Packard automobiles in the ’70s when they were fairly inexpensive. My dad’s favorite car was an orange 1953 Packard convertible.
Mary died in 2000 after a short illness. Russ remained in the house for 10 years before moving to a retirement community in Highland Park and later into assisted living.
Russ is survived by his son Gene, daughter-in-law Gretchen; sisters-in-law Lena, Florence and Barbara; and many nieces and nephews.
Gene is extremely grateful to the people and staff at Providence Elder Place and Washington Care Center for helping his father at a challenging time.