Anyone who knew Russ was made to feel special. Russ had time for everyone. If you knew him at all, and you ran into him, he’d stop whatever he was doing and ask you about your life and everything that was going on in it.
Russ passed suddenly in Eureka on Oct. 26, surrounded by family, after a brief but rare lung disease. He was 76 years old.
An avid athlete, Russ excelled at basketball, football and baseball in high school. He once threw a no-hitter at Eureka High.
At age 17, while still in high school, Russ started working with his brother, Bob, at Britt Lumber, a hardware store and retail lumber yard on Hubbard Lane in Eureka. The retail store burned in 1966 and the business eventually transformed into a sawmill and moved to Arcata. Russ would become widely known as the best redwood lumber salesman in the world, moving fence boards, 4x4 posts and 2x4 rails to wholesalers in California, then ultimately to Home Depot and other retail stores throughout the Southwest and as far away as Hawaii.
As a partner in Britt Lumber, Russ was a born salesman. He had a particular talent for selling lumber that didn’t exist, then making sure it was cut from logs and ready to go before a truck showed up. When his brother retired, Russ ran the mill for 20 years before his own retirement. He was also a founder of Redwood Capital Bank and was on the board of directors. He was a past president of the Ingomar Club and past president of the California Redwood Association. He was honored as Lumberman of the Year, in separate years, by the Ingomar Club, the Hoo Hoo lumberman’s association, and the Old Timers lumberman group.
Russ knew no strangers, and he was completely unable to forget a name. He had more friends than you could shake a 2x4 at. A list of them would fill up an entire page in the newspaper (and the paper, he’d tell you, “Grows on trees, you know.”).
Russ loved hunting ducks and geese at Tule Lake, and he hunted deer at the family ranch above Korbel, where he started helping out as a teenager, bucking hay and rounding up and branding cattle and, until very recently, fiddling with the cantankerous generators. For 30 years, he spent time at his cabin in Trinity Center, fishing and water skiing.
Russ is survived by his wife of 57 years and loving partner in life, Pam, daughters Antoinette Britt and Lisa Brockoff, his brother Bob (Shari), his beloved grandsons Brandon Brockoff and Bradley Brockoff, his sister-in-law Carla Strope, many nieces and nephews, and his dog Ryder. He was preceded in death by his parents, Margaret and Milton, his brother Tony, and his sisters Bonnie Tanferani and Karen Bradshaw.
Thank you to the doctors and nurses at St. Joseph’s Hospital for their incredible care and compassion. And a special thank you to Russ’s neighbor, Dr. Scott Sattler.
A celebration of Russ’s life will be held Friday, Nov. 8 at noon at Sequoia Conference Center at 901 Myrtle Avenue in Eureka. A private interment was planned separately. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you donate to your favorite charity.
The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Russ Britt’s loved ones. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here.