Catherine Nielson Russell, 82, passed away peacefully on Oct. 24, 2016.
Her pure faith, genuine love and abundant gifts blessed all who knew her. The oldest child of Glen J. and Virginia K. Nielson, Catherine often spoke of her wonderful childhood in Ephraim, Utah. Even as a child she loved to sing, and often performed duets with her dear brother Larry.
After graduating from Snow College she attended BYU and loved singing with the BYU Madrigal Singers who performed for First Lady Mamie Eisenhower, Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson, and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.
After completing her bachelor’s degree she moved to the California Bay Area where she taught elementary school and directed a young adult choir. It was there she met Clyde Bannister Russell who “found the choir director’s smile absolutely captivating.” Six months later they were engaged.
After serving simultaneous missions (Clyde to England and Catherine to New England), they were married in the Manti LDS Temple on Aug. 16, 1958. With Clyde as her pianist, Cathie often sang in church meetings, community plays and building fund events.
Clyde and Cathie lived in Fremont, California, South Bend, Indiana, and Provo, Utah before eventually settling in Santa Rosa, California. She was an extraordinary mother to her four children, teaching them tap-dancing lessons in the garage, soap-carving lessons at the kitchen table, and voice lessons at the piano. They enjoyed singing in four-part harmony at family night and Christmas caroling, or even while doing dishes.
Mom knew a song for every occasion and just made life fun, from picnics to road trips, from family backpacking to swimming like Esther Williams, from “winning last” in croquet to dancing in the kitchen with dad.
She was also a gifted artist. Her impressive oil landscapes graced the walls of their home and church buildings. She painted Bon-Ami nativity scenes on the living room windows, and for wedding gifts she often painted a watercolor portrait of the bride. A blogger ahead of her time, Catherine kept her extended family connected through detailed weekly letters.
She served energetically in her church callings and directed the Santa Rosa Etude Singers community choir for many years. Filled with love and faith, her prayers were close to heaven, and her solutions to life’s problems always included prayer and a big hug. “It’s been wonderful we’ve had all these many years together,” she recently reminisced, “Have a gentle day and pass around hugs to everyone.”
Catherine is preceded in death by her husband Clyde Bannister Russell and their twin infant sons. She is survived by their children Laura (Steve) Bunker, Jeannette (Michael) Singleton, Jared Russell (Norma), and MarySue (Doug) Willden, 21 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, her siblings Lawrence G. Nielson, Barbara (Steve) Mordecai, Marilyn (James) Edwards, and Margaret (Van) Riding.
Deepest heartfelt thanks to Bel Aire Assisted Living and Inspiration Hospice for their exceptionally tender caregiving. Funeral services were held on Catherine’s 83rd birthday Friday, Oct. 28, 2016 in the Kaysville Gailey Park Ward chapel.
Interment followed at the Kaysville City Cemetery. Online guestbook available at www.russonmortuary.com.