ALAMOSA—Jesse Russell died unexpectedly Christmas morning. He leaves behind his parents, Steve and Mary Russell of Alamosa, his very good friends (brothers from another mother) Andrew Rice and Ron Doyle and numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews. His dogs, Bella and Beau and cats: Shasta, Luna, Igor and Mama. His brother Nicky preceded him in death as did his grandparents Bob and Phoebe Russell, Perley (Sarge) and Madaline Prior, Uncle Woody (JP) Prior, Dale Hammermeister and Aunt Peg Russell.
Jesse was born on Feb. 20, 1985 in Cortez, Colo. and spent four years of his life living there until the family moved to Alamosa in December of 1989. He attended local schools and graduated from Alamosa High School in 2004. Jesse went on to attend Adams State University and received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English with a creative writing emphasis as well as a minor degree in theatre.
Jesse developed his love of writing and composing early on and wrote poetry, short stories, plays and music. His gift was the ability to see beyond everyday experiences and his work was moving and transformative. In college Jesse wrote for the newspaper “The South Coloradan” and had many articles published with his byline. As a freshman, Jesse successfully ran a campaign as freshman senator for the Associated Students and Faculty (AS&F) at ASU. In his campaign literature, he described himself as someone who understood and promoted the diverse background of students and desired to be a catalyst for everyone to stand up and become involved which was a sentiment that he would carry into his life beyond school. He was recognized for outstanding academic achievement in 2006 & 2007. He edited an edition to the Sandhill Review-ASU’s literary book. He was especially proud of his work on the Fahrenheit 451/ First Amendment Theatre project in 2008 where he directed the play “My Name is Rachel Corrie.” Jesse graduated Cum Laude from ASC in 2009. He counted as influences and mentors ASU professor’s John Taylor, Paul Newman, Aaron Abeyta and Carol Guererro Murphy.
Jesse had Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a neuromuscular disease and used a power wheelchair and as much technology as was humanly possible. He was definitely tech savvy and was always researching ways to not only improve his life but advance it. He was not one to feel he “suffered” from Muscular Dystrophy and disliked things like the Jerry Lewis telethon because he felt it portrayed individuals with disabilities as those to be pitied. He always embraced life and saw the possibilities instead of the limitations.
Jesse became an avid sports fan under the tutelage of friend Ron and especially loved his Colorado Avalanche hockey team, the Colorado Rockies as well as the ASU Grizzlies of course! He spent many an evening and day at said sporting events, encouraging his parents to attend along with him.
Jesse loved music and attended concerts and performances all over but loved Red Rocks Amphitheater above all else. He once told Ron his favorite concert was seeing U2 at Sports Authority Field in July 2010
Other interests that captivated Jesse were all kinds of card games especially poker like Texas Hold ‘Em. He became a member of the ASU Poker club and hosted and attended games in Alamosa.
It was many a night that Jesse liberated funds from friends and family! His love of all kinds of animals was no secret to those who knew him and he had a special place in his heart for wolves.
He had several projects that he worked on including an SLV calendar with pictures of the Valley he took with a cellphone mounted on his wheelchair. He also created -salmonella t-shirts after the outbreak was found in the Alamosa city water supply. Some of the proceeds of these projects went to local charities.
Jesse loved to travel and did so with aplomb. He visited over 38 states in his lifetime and logged many miles on his wheelchair in various destinations. This summer, he was able to travel to New Orleans to witness Aunt Jocelyn’s amazing sculptures at the Audubon zoo (where the family got a private tour) and cruise to Alaska in August, a lifetime dream. Jesse was instrumental in planning the annual Russell family reunion trips that have been happening for 12 years.
Lately, Jesse had been spending time composing music on the computer and was in hopes of continuing creatively writing songs to be published. He collaborated with friend Jessica Doyle on the song “When Peace Has Come” which appeared on You Tube https://yout.be/3A7DiESe4N8.
Jesse was much loved and cared for by many and will be missed. His quick wit and winning smile were great to behold. And his love of life that was reflected in all he did was an inspiration to many.
Cremation was chosen and a memorial celebration will be held at a later date. Donations in Jesse’s name can be made to the Adams State University, Theatre department in care of Rogers Family Mortuary at 205 State Ave., Alamosa, CO 81101.
Rogers Family Mortuary is in care of the arrangements. To leave online condolences, tributes and remarks for Jesse’s family, please visit www.RogersFunerals.com