Russell M. Betts

Born: Mon., Feb. 10, 1936
Died: Sun., Dec. 6, 2009

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Russell Marion Betts, born in Moscow, Idaho, February 10, 1936, to parents Russell A. Betts and Mildred Fairley Betts, passed away December 6, 2009, in Pendleton, Oregon. A memorial service will be held at 11:00 AM on Saturday, December 12, 2009 at the Free Methodist Church in Pendleton, Oregon. Contributions in memory of Russell Betts may be made to the Blue Mountain Wildlife Refuge or to the Malheur Field Station, and may be sent in care of Burns Mortuary of Pendleton, PO Box 489, Pendleton, OR 97801. Send condolences to the family or sign the register at www.burnsmortuary.com Burns Mortuary of Pendleton is in charge of arrangements. Russ graduated from high school in Wallace, Idaho and the University of Montana, School of Forestry, Missoula, Mt, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree. He competed with the University Ski Team, racing both downhill and cross country. While attending college, he was Ski Patrol Leader for the three ski areas located in the Missoula, MT area. Russ served in the U.S. Army Infantry Division in Korea, and attended Officer's Training and was commissioned. Serving in the Reserves until 1969, he was a Captain and Commanding Officer of the Army Reserve Group in Klamath Falls, OR. Russ retired from the US Forest Service in April 1994 in Pendleton, OR after many assignments with the Federal Government. He worked for the USFS a number of summers in the Kellogg, ID area during high school and college. In 1962, he was hired as a Seasonal Park Ranger in the backwoods of Sequoia National Park climbing peaks and hiking through miles of backcountry for 4-5 months in 1962. He was flown in by helicopter, and food drops were made intermittently. Russ received a letter of commendation signed by President Lyndon Johnson for his heroic efforts of climbing one of the highest peaks in the black of the night to use his "walkie-talkie" device to "hit" the repeater, attempting to secure helicopter services to remove a severely injured climber. It was through many difficult discussions, that he convinced the NPS that the injured hiker would not survive if immediate rescue at daybreak wasn't provided. Russ climbed down the peak still in the black of the night, returning to the injured climber. He was unaware of the helicopter actually being dispatched until he heard the rotors in the early morning dawn. It was only through his heroic efforts, did this "unknown" hiker survive. Russ worked at the Northern Forest Fire Laboratory in Missoula, MT, while working on a Master's Degree, where he met and married Joan Hedlund Gregory. In 1963 Russ was hired by BLM, Carson City, NV for his first permanent position. He transferred to Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, CO where he was again responsible for "the climbers safety." He led the "longest length of descent over the steepest incline including an overhang" evacuation training session for potentially injured climbers on the face of Longs Peak. He also was in charge of the ski area and backcountry safety for hikers. He attended the NPS Albright Training Center in Grand Canyon, AZ for NPS personnel when he first hiked to the bottom of the canyon and attended an Easter morning sunrise service over the beautiful canyon walls. He returned to Rocky Mountain National Park for a period of time, followed by a transfer to the Lava Beds National Monument, Tule Lake, CA, where he was trained in spelunking and the rescue of spelunkers. In 1967 Russ transferred to the USFS, Winema National Forest, working both in the Forest Office two times and the Chiloquin Ranger District, followed by a transfer to the Deschutes National Forest in Bend, OR, where Russ was in charge of the Mt. Bachelor Ski area and mountain rescue, and worked on the development of a visitor center in the lava fields. The Umatilla National Forest was his next assignment, followed by a move to the Fremont National Forest in Lakeview. During his tenure there, he met and married Connie Conant on March 10, 1979. He and Connie returned to the Umatilla National Forest where they have continued to live on Perkins Avenue and have been active members of the Pendleton Free Methodist Church. Russ is survived by his wife Connie, his two children, son Derek Russell Betts and wife Sherrie and their two children Tanner and Mackenzie of Reno, NV and daughter Shannon Betts Tracy and her husband Dan, and their two children Rachel and Connor of Woodland, WA. His sister Camille Oliver and Byron live in Missoula, MT and Yuma, AZ and their daughter Renee', husband Peter, and their three daughters Kendra, Zoe and Jenna live in Missoula, MT. Russ has always been active – climbing Mt. Rainier, each of the 3 Sisters, Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Whitney. He was invited to climb Mt. McKinley in Alaska in the 60's by a group of "outstanding" climbers, but declined due to work commitments. He loved gardening, flyfishing, fly tying, and birding. He kayaked the Colorado River of the Grand Canyon with a group of floaters, and the Salmon, the Rogue, the Snake and the Deschutes Rivers. Russ was a Gideon's Volunteer, member of the Pendleton Bird Club and the Blue Mountain Flycasters. He has been active in the maintenance of his church and surrounding areas. Russ was a humble and simple man, well known for his servant's heart; joyfully and whole-heartedly filling any need he heard of or saw. RUSS LOVED SERVING THE LORD AND HIS FAMILY AND FRIENDS. HE WILL BE DEARLY MISSED BY ALL.

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Fred Sparks
   Posted Wed December 09, 2009
Russ was such a wonderful, warm, caring individual. He will certainly be missed. God bless.

Dick & Carol Gilman
   Posted Wed December 09, 2009
Dear Connie & Family, Camille, Byron & Family, Our thoughts and prayers are with you all at this time.

Holly Cyganik
   Posted Wed December 09, 2009
I will miss seeing Russell's smiling face at church every Sunday. What a neat man! Love and prayers with Connie and the family. God bless you all.

Larry Kribs
   Posted Wed December 09, 2009
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.

Linda Conant
   Posted Wed December 09, 2009
I think of Russ as a strong man with a gentle spirit & a love for God, family & friends. It was a blessing to know him.

Colin and Annie Conant
   Posted Wed December 09, 2009
Russ was a great brother-in-law and fantastic husband to my sister Connie. He was always full of energy and ready to help whomever needed it. In reading his biography, we learned the true extent of his activities and achievements. His life was full with service to his friends, his church and the community as a whole. He left an indelible mark on our hearts and minds.

Ken & Miriam Kishi
   Posted Wed December 09, 2009
Connie--You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers as you say goodbye to Russ. What a special man he was. God bless.

Terry and Sandi Splawn
   Posted Wed December 09, 2009
Connie, We extend our deepest sympathy to you and the entire family. We are sure your hearts must feel broken, but rest assured that there is joy in Heaven as another Child of God has come home. We send our love and may it be of some comfort to you in the days ahead, knowing you are held in our prayers. Sincerely, Terry and Sandi Splawn Sherrie's mom

Robert and Marjorie Hoeft
   Posted Thu December 10, 2009
To the Betts family, We send our deepest condolences on your loss. We will never forget the long friendship we have shared. Sincerely, Robert and Marjorie Hoeft

dennis gaylord
   Posted Thu December 10, 2009
Connie, What a kind and wonderful friend we all have lost. Russ was the best. I fondly recall our many fishing and boating trips on the Oregon rivers, the many hours working together at the FS and our fellowship at church. May god comfort you and your family in this time of sorrow.

Tara Van Orden
   Posted Thu December 10, 2009
Russ was such a kind and wonderful man! Though I did not get the chance to know him well, he always had a warm smile to share and would light up in the presence of his grandchildren. I will miss him.

Lynn Van Orden
   Posted Thu December 10, 2009
Dear Connie & family, So sorry to hear about Russ. What a great guy he was. We always enjoyed his visits here. You are in my thoughts, my heart and my prayers. May happy memories carry you through this sorrowful time.Love Lynn Van Orden & Jim

Joanne Elliott
   Posted Fri December 11, 2009
Connie, Camille & Family Russ was certainly a talented and dedicated man, accomplishing much in his lifetime. I'm sorry I can't attend the service, but you are certainly in my thoughts and prayers. Love, Joanne

Daryl, Susan Arndt
   Posted Fri December 11, 2009
Connie and family, We are so sorry for your loss. We count ourselves fortunate to have gotten to visit with you and Russ the end of November. We will always remember how thoughtful and loving Russ was and we appreciated his servant's heart, expecially while we lived in Pendleton. We count ourselves blessed to have known Russ. Our prayers and thoughts are with you all. We will look forward to the day when we will see him again in Heaven. We wish we could come for the service but we will not be able to. We look forward to seeing him again when we all reach Heaven! Love, Daryl and Susan Arndt

Roger Sparks
   Posted Fri December 11, 2009
To the Betts Family, I consider myself so lucky to have been able to reaquaint with Russ this summer at the Wallace All Class Reunion. After growing up with Russ in Silverton, Idaho as near neighbors and sharing many hikes, Boy Scout adventures, and high school experiences, our lives took separate paths. When we met again this last summer, despite his battle with cancer, he was the same cheerful, optomistic, and gracious person I had known well so many years past. Much to my pleasure, we once again shared old memories and prospects for the future. What a loss for a life cut short, but what a blessing to have known him and been a small part of his life. My condolulces to his family, knowing that his loss to you is so much greater than my loss, but to the extent I can, I share your loss. Roger

Kendra Donovan
   Posted Fri December 11, 2009
For my family, Russ was such a kind man, and will be remembered in only such positive ways. I'm so sorry I can't attend the service, but my thought and prayers are with you all this coming weekend.

John Dadoly
   Posted Fri December 11, 2009
To Russ' Family, I feel lucky to have known Russ through our Blue Mountain Flycasters Club. We could always count on Russ for his good cheer and plenty of new fly patterns to try. If there are trout streams in heaven, I am sure Russ will have them all worked out before the rest of us get there. God bless all of you.

Jennifer & Ed Akridge
   Posted Fri December 11, 2009
We enjoyed visiting with Russ and Connie in Yuma when they visited Russ' sister and brother-in-law, Camille & Byron Oliver. We will miss hearing about their travels around the fire pit. Peace be with you Connie.

Ron & Elva Cox
   Posted Fri December 11, 2009
We will miss Russ as well as your visits to Montana. We both have special memories of working with Russ on the Umatilla. Ron has fond memories of float trips with Russ and I remember one we all took on the Grand Rhonde. Also we treasure the drawings he did at Christmas time. Connie, our prayers are for you and your family as you adjust to a life without Russ. We'll be with you in prayer tomorrow. Your Friends, Elva and Ron

Lori Rohn
   Posted Fri December 11, 2009
I only knew Russ through Connie, an Arts Center friend, but I have the sense that he was as good and kind a person as I know her to be. Connie, you are in my thoughts. May the love of your friends and family fill your heart, and may your happy memories bring you a smile whenever you need one.

Pat Matthews
   Posted Fri December 11, 2009
Dear Connie... Words cannot convey my deepest sympathy to you and your family in the loss of Russ. He truly was an elegant man, an honorable and honored gentleman. Now he is free to climb the highest mountains. May you sense God's loving arms around you in the coming days-- Pat Matthews

Bruce & Evelyn Lemberger
   Posted Sat December 12, 2009
Our thoughts are with you and we will miss Russ. He was always there with a wave and a smile...interesting to talk to. Bruce and Evelyn

Robert Tapley
   Posted Sat December 12, 2009
Such fond memories of Russ. One of the joys of going to the Bird Club meetings was to see Russ there. I know that your faith in God will sustain you in your grief. God bless you, Connie

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