Russell was born in Billings on October 26, 1932 to Henry and Molly Amen. Russell graduated from Billings Senior High School. He farmed a number of years with his brothers on the family farms west of Billings and at Park City. He graduated from Billings Business College and was a bookkeeper for the Big Ditch Company. Subsequently he went to work as a dispatcher for the Billings Fire Department which later became the Communication Center for the Billings Police and Fire Departments and he retired after 32 years of service.
Russell had many interests and hobbies. He was a 4-H leader for the Hesper Hustlers for many years and loved working with the kids and the kids loved Russell. Fishing and snowmobiling were favorite activities and he would spend hours organizing trips. He was ever the farmer. He enjoyed his garden and was always able to supply his friends with tomatoes and cucumbers from the bumper crops he produced. Russell enjoyed working with tools of all kinds and he had one of every tool made. Woodworking was an enjoyable pastime and he was a real perfectionist.
Russell was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Gilbert and wife Dorris, brothers Ervin and Jack, nephew Jack Amen and niece Donnaleen Woodley. He is survived by his brother Ralph, wife Beverly of Billings, his sister Doris Lynch, husband David of Mukilteo, WA, sister-in- law Lucretia Amen of Park City, MT, and many nieces, nephews and cousins.
Russell was a kind, thoughtful and generous person, and loved by all who knew him.
Visitation will be Thursday, 2-8 pm. The funeral service will be Friday, December 11, 2009, 2:00 pm, both at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary & Crematory, 1001 Alderson Avenue, Billings.
In lieu of flowers donations can be made to Toys for Tots, 2913 Gabel Rd., Billings, MT 59102 or www.toysfortots.org, also to a local food bank.
Russell was a wonderful man and a dedicated public servant. When I began my career in 9-1-1 communications back in the mid-80’s, Russ was one of the core group that whipped us young dogs into shape. Never content to bask in a moment of idleness between a radio dispatch or 9-1-1 call, he was a doer who engaged in innumerable tasks – fixing equipment, devising what-cha-ma-call-its to satisfy specialized needs, and endlessly working on maps and mapping indexes that would be used by both the dispatchers and the firemen. Russ was a serious steward of public money and he insisted on making all our scratch pads – fusing together sheets of scrap paper with a gigantic jug of pink adhesive and a collection of clamps. He did so love tools and he fiercely protected them by engraving “Billings Fire Dept” on anything big enough to bear the script. There’d be no rulers or Exatco knives or pencil sharpeners walking out of the building under his watch! To this day, we have equipment that bears his spidery engraved script on it. For years we kept a sizeable box in storage with the stern admonition: KEEP OUT – I MEAN IT. And keep out we did until one day long after Russ’s retirement we had to rearrange our storage area and peeked into it. There was no question that this was a special collection of tools and apparatus that Russ had squirreled away for his map work – magnifying lenses, drafting supplies, and stuff whose purpose could not be determined – all emblazoned with “Billings Fire Dept.”
Russ was a joker with a keen sense of humor and his co-workers relished the times when he tickled himself with a comment or a prank. I can still recall Russ having to pull off his glasses, his faced flushed and eyes wet as he chortled uncontrollably. It was completely infectious and before long we would all be laughing.
He was a gentleman and a masterful dispatcher. He taught me much of what I know about fire communications and duty and industriousness. I am honored to have worked with him and he will always live in a special place in my heart.
Communication Center Manager
Billings City/County 9-1-1
What to say about Russ!!! There are so many wonderful things. I had the PRIVILEDGE (and JOY!!!) of working with Russ in the 9-1-1 Center for a long time, then getting to see him from time to time after he retired. As Anne said, Russ was always the keeper of the tools and protected City Property like it was his own. He represented first the Fire Dept. then the 9-1-1 Center admirably. Russ was a man of great courage. Over time he had to overcome a lot of physical issues and made it look a breeze to do without complaint. He loved his co-workers (in particular the Firefighters and secondly the Police Officers) and was always the very first to defend their honor and the job they had to do. If as a co-worker, you were having a bad day or something bad going on in your world; Russ was the first to help if he could. He always put others first. Russ was an awesome story teller and had endless stories about years back when he dispatched at the Fire Department before the Center. There were many practical jokes played on him but he was always very quick to return the favor!!! The Citizens will never know the great length Russ went to to make sure they got the service they deserved and paid for. Like all Dispatchers he was a silent hero. He cared immeasurably. It wasn’t the big things; he knew his job and did it well. It was the little things very few ever knew about. Myself and so many others were richly blessed to have worked with Russ, having gotten to experience that wonderful laugh and sense of humor. I believe there is a special place in heaven for Angels like Russ and know he will be looking down on anyone in emergency services cheering them on for a job well done. It’s been a true blessing having known you Russ. Your former co-workers are all better people because you were in their world.
Billings Police Department
Anyone who ever met Russell, came to know the unique and humble person that he was. He served by teaching many a dispatcher the basics of the job. I too learned alot from Russell, he was always willing to explain and guide dispatchers during stressful calls, and come to the aid by telling what department so and so worked in so that we could transfer calls to the appropriate city extention. Russell helped me tremendously learn the streets and “zones” of Billings through map work.
Russell was part of the “Rat Pack” of the Comm. Center, between him and the others that have gone before him, there are just no words to describe the service dedication they performed in their careers, and seemingly passed on to all who knew them. Their pioneering spirit is with each and every one of us.
Ann Marie Seidl
Security Site Supervisor
CHS Refinery, Laurel, MT.