I woke up and I saw the white carpet of snow and I laughed. Many would think it was a terrible day for a funeral, but the way I see it, the day couldn’t be more perfect. Today the mortal world said goodbye to Russ Whitaker.
With Russ, you either know him, or you don’t..there was no in between. When I say he has a big personality, this is no exaggeration. I can’t exactly remember the first time I met Russ, but I know I never forgot him after that.
Russ is my friend Kris’s dad. When Kris and his family built their house just through the field I knew my life would change, and it did. With Kris around—just like his dad—life was never boring. And Big Russ didn’t seem to mind me hanging around his house all the time, me, Scott Schryver and Kris having a great time watching their TVs and eating their food.
Russ also didn’t banish me from their lives when I crashed on one of his Honda Trail 90s (or maybe he had 110s…) with Kris on the back and hurt his son. Russ may have gotten me back when, while running an errand after one of the many adventures I was lucky enough to go on with his family, we picked up some scrape metal in Woods Cross. Russ told me to jump up in the back of that ancient green Dodge pickup (had to be from the 1960’s…) and keep that steel from tipping. I still can’t believe I jump in the truck. The ground was very uneven, the load shifted and fell over with me under it. By some miracle I wasn’t hurt too seriously. I hope I never forget that.
The weather for today’s funeral was perfect because some of my fondest memories of Russ have to do with snow. Russ ran the ski school for decades. I learned to ski taking that big smelly bus up Ogden Canyon to Snowbasin. I snowmobiled with Kris and their family up at Monte Cristo, and I froze my tail off ice fishing on Bear Lake during the famous cisco run. Russ said to Kris and I after we hauled in all those fish, “Now, get cleaning them!” That’s Russ.
I saw the snow and I thought of him; I thought of him for many reasons, but mostly—like it was mentioned at his funeral—he would have loved the snowy day. And I swear as I watched the snow fall this morning, I could almost hear him laugh.