August 23, 2023
Cheryl Russell of Florence, Montana, went to her Lord and Savior on August 17, 2023. She was born Cheryl Anderson in Malta, Montana, on May 3, 1954, to Byron "Swede" and Betty Jo Anderson. Cheryl was quite young when her Dad started working for the Milwaukee Railroad in Harlowton, Montana as a trolley lineman. A short time later, he transferred to Three Forks, they bought a piece of property in nearby Willow Creek and built their home. Cheryl and her siblings, 4 sisters and 1 brother grew up as typical small-town Montana kids. She helped her Mom with household chores and her Dad with farm work. She loved horses, Elvis, and driving too fast. As a student at Willow Creek high school, she was involved in every activity she could be in, graduating near the top of her senior class of five.
When Cheryl was a senior, one evening, a strange car pulled into their driveway. In it were two strange guys, one of them was dating one of her sisters. Apparently, the other guy somehow caught her eye, and she set her sights on him. Not long afterward, they started dating, one thing led to another, and they were married on October 20, 1973.
Thus began their strange adventurous life together. Their first and second children, JB and Rebecca were born while he was an engineer on the Milwaukee at Three Forks. When that RR went bankrupt, they moved to Portland, Oregon, for a job on the Union Pacific RR. They both liked Portland but decided they did not want to raise a family there. Subsequent moves followed to Umatilla and Hermiston in Oregon, Pocatello, Idaho where their son Pedro was born, and to Lolo and Florence in Montana.
Through all the turmoil and upheavals, the one constant unwavering passion of Cheryl's was children. Whenever they moved to a new town, she would quickly get involved with their local church's youth programs. In Lolo, she worked as Director of Youth Education at Spirit of Christ Church, attending countless High School CYC Conventions. She drew joy, energy, and inspiration from the young people, and they learned love, compassion, and empathy from her. Cheryl accompanied young adult groups as a guide and Chaperone to World Youth Day pilgrimages in Denver in 1993, Paris in 1997, Rome in 2000, and Toronto in 2002. The Paris and Rome pilgrimages were each attended by well over a million youth from all over the world, none more enthusiastic and ecstatic to be there than Cheryl. In addition to her Church activities, she was very involved in Scouting. She was a Girl Scout Den Mother for Rebecca's Scout Troop and served as Advancement Chairman for the Bitterroot Council of Boy Scouts. With her leadership, Rebecca earned Gold Award, and JB and Pedro achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. Both awards were at the highest level in their group.
She worked for the University of Montana Campus Safety Department for 19 years, she enjoyed the work, but her favorite part of the job was supervising and cooking for the Security team at the Griz football games.
Cheryl's love of family was always a source of joy and comfort to her. Nothing brought her more pleasure than snuggles with her grandkiddos and nephews, and nieces.
Preceding her in death were her parents, Swede and Betty Jo. Surviving her are her siblings, Trudi and husband Kevin of Arizona, Byron of Livingston, Montana, Mona and her husband Ron Tyson of Saint Ignatius, Montana, Patti and her husband Jim Foley of Missoula, and her sister Mary Jo Braae of Tacoma, Washington. Her children, JB of Anaconda Montana, Rebecca of Ketchikan Alaska, Pedro of Helena, Montana, and her always slightly strange husband Jim.
Her grandchildren in order of appearance are Orsen of Ketchikan, Adelaide of Anaconda, Rex and Joey of Helena, Mathias of Ketchikan and Tora and Zev from Helena.
Services for Cheryl will be a Vigil at Spirit of Christ Catholic Church in Lolo Thursday Aug 24 at 7 p.m. and Blessed Trinity Catholic Parish Friday, Aug 25 at 11 a.m.