Gordon H. Russ, locomotive engineer

Gordon H. Russ, retired locomotive engineer of the Milwaukee Road’s Coast Division, died on August 20, 2013 at the age of 94. A memorial service is planned for September 7, 2013 in Tacoma at Narrows Glenn Retirement Home (details below).  In lieu of flowers the family is  requesting gifts be made to Cascade Rail Foundation. Gifts can be sent by mail or made online.  Online donations can be made here for general donations or here for the 5057 locomotive project.

Gordon first hired out on the Milwaukee Road in June 1937, where his father had worked as a locomotive engineer since 1905 for the Milwaukee’s predecessor, the Tacoma & Eastern Railroad.

Gordon was a veteran of the Second World War, enlisting in the U.S. Coast Guard in 1942 and ultimately serving in the Pacific theater.

Returning from WWII, Gordon continued his career at the Milwaukee Road, where rose through the mechanical department and train service ranks to locomotive engineer, a position he would hold through the departure of the Milwaukee Road’s operations from Washington in 1980.  At the time of the Milwaukee Road’s abandonment Gordon ranked No.1 on the engineer’s seniority roster for the Coast Division.  Highlights of his career in engine service included his working the Olympian Hiawatha passenger train between Tacoma and Othello and operating of each type of the historic electric locomotives in operation on the Coast Division.  Ultimately, Gordon retired from the Union Pacific Railroad in 1984 at age 65.  He worked briefly as a locomotive engineer consultant at the start-up of the Wisconsin Central Railroad in 1987-1988.

Gordon was active in the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (“BLE”) during his rail career and was elected Local Chairman of Division 801 (1957 to 1964) and BLE General Chairman of Lines West of the Milwaukee Road (1964 to 1967).

He became broadly known within the railroad enthusiast community when he was featured in the March 1978 Trains magazine article “Tacoma Hill, slugs, and Mr. Clean” by Blair Kooistra.  Gordon was “Mr. Clean”, because he ensured the cabs of his locomotives were meticulously clean.

Gordon is survived by four children, nine grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

A memorial service celebrating Gordon’s life will be held at Narrow’s Glen Retirement Home on Saturday, September 7, 2013 at 10:30 AM.  (8201 6th Avenue Tacoma, WA 98406, 253-320-7074)


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