Russ and Dee joined the Central Texas Gem and Mineral Society in 1970. Lou Jane and I joined in the late 1980’s and were warmly greeted by Russ and Dee.
They saw to it that we were soon involved in activities of the club. Each Monday night that we attended the club, Russ or Dee would ask what we were going to work on that night. Soon I was bringing my torch and silver and Russ was showing me his method of soldering silver. I remember Tammie Dollison and myself would sit around the table with Russ and get all the tips we could as we learned more about silversmithing. Russ always brought his box of patterns for ring shanks, chains and other projects. I remember specifically a night that he taught us how to lay out jump rings and using his small hand held torch he would solder about 20 in one session and join some and solder some more and very soon he had the beginnings of a chain. We noticed that he knew some things that we didn’t because when he finished soldering, he didn’t have any filing to do to remove extra solder. He had techniques that showed years of refinement and perfection.
Russ was not satisfied with anything less than perfection in silversmithing, lapidary or sphere making. His work has been exhibited at many gem shows and sets a standard for all to strive for. As Lou Jane put it, “Russ raised the bar for all aspiring silversmiths”. He also exhibited a large collection of agate butterflies. The quality of his work was admired by all. Many have been heard to say, “Russ’s butterflies are awesome.” Russ for many years demonstrated his talents in building beautiful spheres out of good quality stones. He was always happy to explain the process to those that would inquire. His lapidary work and his silversmithing classes have influenced the direction of our club in providing educational classes in several areas. At our spring show in Abilene, as someone inquired about an unusual silver piece in his display case, Russ replied “I always like to try something new.”
Russ loved field trips and rock hunting with friends. He always wore his felt miners hat with a large feather tucked in the band. He enjoyed having new folks join the club. I remember when I was a rookie in the club and we were on a rock hunt in Benjamin, TX. I asked Russ about a rock I had found. I knew he would know what it was. He said that is a “leaverite”. I looked at the rock with a question mark on my face. After a pause, I said I never heard of a “leaverite”, what is it? He said with a big grin on his face, “That means it’s no good, you leave’er right where it is.” Well, one more rookie had fallen for his joke. I never did forget what a leverite is and every time I pick one up I think of how Russ enjoyed catching me in that moment.
Russ and Dee were central to the production of our spring show for many
years. Russ was the MC
until he and Dee began to follow the show circuit with dealer friends they had
made. This year at our Abilene show
the Central Texas Gem and Mineral Society presented Russ and Dee with Life
Memberships and a plaque for outstanding service to the club.
Russ loved his hobby and friends so well that he courageously continued
to travel with them as long as he could through the months of his final illness.
It is impossible to mention all the ways in which this man, this friend,
has influenced and inspired each of us. We
shall miss him.
Jerry and Lou Jane Davis
Russ passed away on 5/27/04