It is with extreme sadness that we announce the tragic passing of Melvyn “Russell” MacDonald on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019 in Minnesota during one of his favourite hobbies: snowmobiling with his friends.
Russ was born on Aug. 11, 1983 to Melvin and Lucille (Allan) MacDonald in Yorkton, Sask. Russ shared his birthday with his grandfather, Russell Allan, for whom he was named. Aug. 11th was a popular birthday as he also shared it with his Auntie Brenda.
He was the oldest of three and role model to little brothers, Brodie and Neil.
Russ spent the first six years of his childhood in Saskatchewan before moving to Rainy River District in Ontario, where he graduated from Fort Frances High School in 2001 and continued to reside until his death.
The lakes, forests, and countryside of the area called to his adventurous spirit and he spent much of his time fishing, hunting, boating, and snowmobiling here. Later, he would share his love of the outdoors with his sons, Nolan, Bryce, and Levi. He loved taking them hunting, fishing, and camping and often shared outdoor adventures with cousin, Jake Boettcher, and his children, Ben, Julia, and Ana.
He also introduced the boys to stock car racing and they travelled to find more adventures.
When he wasn't playing hard, Russ was working hard. His strong work ethic was part of the character from a young age, whether he was helping Mom mop the floor or building a tree house with Dad. And by the age of 13, he was spending the summer working on his aunt and uncle's farm.
During high school, he participated in a co-op program with K & M Trucking and would continue working there part-time. He has great appreciation for all he learned, especially from men like Mario Venerus. Russ obtained his AZ licence on his 18th birthday. He graduated on the Dean's List from the Northern College Millwright Program in Timmins, Ont.
Russ joined the Ironworkers in 2008 and became a journeyman Ironworker in 2010, and was proud to follow in his Dad's footsteps joining the Thunder Bay Ironworkers Local 759.
Russ wrote, “I'm a proud second generation Union Ironworker. I don't really ever say that, either, cause I hated being called Mel's kid when I first started. LOL, name is Russ. The old man taught me to pick my own path and I kinda marched to the beat of my own drum ever since. And probably not gonna change. LOL.”
Russ carved out his own path, and was recognized for his talent and hard work ethic. He was working as a superintendent at the age of 30.
More important to Russ than all his accomplishments was his family. Married to Ashley (Mutz), he has three boys, Nolan, 13, Bryce, 11, and Levi, eight. It was very important to him to raise well-mannered, hard-working, and thoughtful children. His success is obvious to everyone who knows them.
He enjoyed playing host to his friends and family at Windy Point and the camp at Lake Despair. Along with plenty of food and drink, visitors would be entertained by Russ's outgoing, natural story-telling.
Russ was predeceased by his grandparents, Russell and Colleen Allan, and Maurice and Edith MacDonald; as well as his cousins, Master Corporal Allan Stewart, Jade MacDonald, and Tristan Webb.
He will be forever missed by sons, Nolan, Bryce, and Levi; wife, Ashley; parents, Mel and Lucille; brothers, Brodie and Neil (Julie); nieces and nephews, William, Jill, Owen, and Stella (Grace and Chase); and in-laws, Gerri, Alyssa, Allan, and Dennis Mutz.
His loss also will be felt by his large extended family, many groups of friends, and union brothers. His beloved dog, Buster, also will miss their work days together and adventures to the west coast.
A service of celebration and remembrance was held on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019 at 1 p.m. at the Christian Reformed Church in Emo, Ont., with Rev. Frances Flook officiating.
The pallbearers were life-long friends who were like brothers, Nathan Shute from Campbell River, B.C., Kyle Darrah from Cranbrooke, B.C., Adam McCormick from Ear Falls, Ont., Tyler Christiansen and Jason Caul from Devlin, Ont., and Brock Benjamin from Watten Township, Ont., friend, co-worker, and cousin.
If desired, in memoriam donations may be made to the charity of your choice c/o Northridge Funeral Home, P.O. Box 89, Emo, Ont., P0W 1E0.