Gerald (Jerry) Russell was almost larger than life itself. His range of interests and skill sets were seemingly unending. From how to run a printing press to rebuilding your sewing machine (and teaching you how to sew) to politics to photography, Jerry was immensely talented at almost anything you can name. He could design and build you an elegant house, rebuild your car’s engine, build you a gun, or create a wonderful meal for you. He could hunt with anything you put in his hands. He was a talented machinist and, if he couldn’t find the right tool, he would make it. In his earlier years, Jerry sang in an outstanding barbershop quartet.
Talking to Jerry was almost like reading a 2000 page “How To” book or an encyclopedia. He could talk extensively to almost anyone about anything. This made him a great conversationalist. He had an infectious laugh and quick wit. It would be almost impossible to find anyone who did not like or remember meeting Jerry.
In his retirement years (the one thing he did not know how to do) he came to work with me. Up between 3 and 4 every morning, his creative mind would not let him sleep. He would be in his shop, tinkering, or at his drafting table, designing. And he never stopped designing, and redesigning. To quote Ford Motors, quality was “Job #1” for Jerry. Everything could be improved. The industry leading Njekt Soil Injection System is used by Arborists to keep plants healthy, whether injecting disease management products or fertilizer into the soil. He designed the original Njekt and redesigned it every year, making additional improvements.
At a trade show recently, we were approached by a company wanting something with which we were not familiar. That didn’t stop Jerry. Within a few weeks, having worked through several prototypes that were unacceptable to him, Jerry settled on a design that he shipped to the potential client. But his mind was not satisfied. When the company called to say that they had received the prototype a few days later, Jerry proceeded to tell them the three things he thought they would find wrong with it. That was Jerry.
Having beaten back several heart episodes earlier in life, he was diagnosed with cancer. Jerry thoroughly researched and successfully self-treated with dietary changes and nutrition therapy. Finally, a very aggressive form of phenomena brought on by Covid-19 finally claimed Jerry’s life over this past Christmas. Of course, Jerry is not replaceable. His creativity, vision and breadth of knowledge and skills were unmatched. But individual skills and areas of knowledge can be learned and have been learned. We are able to move on, providing quality products and services to our many clients. The ideas that he brought to life will continue to be a constant reminder of Jerry.