Monday, May 21, 2018

Utah Rotary loses a great Rotarian way too soon

Russ Perry came running up to me like an eager little boy a number of years ago, after my District Grants presentation at PETS. His exuberance and energy was uncharacteristic for the event, but it actually was characteristic of Russ. At the end of that first meeting he declared, "we are going to be great friends!" and that's exactly what happened.

Over my years of friendship with Rusty, I heard many stories of his Rotary escapades, the money he raised for one cause or another, the grants he wanted to participate in, his clubs' many projects. He used to hike dictionaries to the Indians at the bottom of the Grand Canyon as part of the Vernal dictionary project. He always took things to the next level, going way beyond what most of us ever consider to serve more and better.

He was that way with peace, and as a member of the District's Peace Committee, he took the initiative to travel to a number of Rotary Clubs, promoting Peace as an Area of Focus in Rotary and Peace Ambassadorial Scholarships. He was a key decision maker in the commitment by the District to move forward in sponsoring the Columbia Peace Initiative Global Grant, and actually assisted in raising money towards it despite his own personal difficulties this past month. His biggest passion in the world was peace through helping people. He was a man of strong conviction and dedication to his family, his friends, his Rotary family and he will be missed. 

When Governor Bev asked me to write this article, I wasn't sure if I was the appropriate one to write it. There are many people who knew him longer and better than I. Yet I also realize as I have spoken with many of you this week, that we all had the same love for Russ, and that the one thing I could do, was mirror that love back to you.

Love and light,

Kris Swanson

District Grants Chair
Rotary District 5420


  1. I cannot express the loss I feel with the passing of Russ. My best story about Russ involves a check for $500 I received on day from someone I did not know. It only said “ for Polio”. I eventually tracked it down to a friend of Russ’. We will always remember him and his contribution to Rotary. Thank you for being a friend and a Rotarian.

    David Higginson
    AG for the UINTAH Basin

  2. Kris, thanks for taking on writing about Russ for all of us. Amen!!!
    Russ's enthusiasm for Rotary service was a lift and example to all of us. For example, when the polio trailer came back to me from Russ something was routinely new gloves on the iron lung sleeves. He was always encouraging us to do more and to do it with a big smile.