Life Tribute – Russell Ernest Milton

Russell Ernest Milton

Russell Ernest Milton, 82, passed away Saturday July 18, 2020 in Portola, California. He was born Aug. 11, 1937 in Denver, Colorado to Paul Ernest Milton and Reta “Pauline” Bassett. Russell was the oldest child of four boys and two girls. He was a member of FFA and graduated from Lassen High School in 1956. Russell chose to enlist in the army in September 1956 and served through June 1959 stationed in Japan. He married high school sweetheart Vondalee Mulroney on April 30, 1960 at the Mapes Hotel in Reno, Nevada.

Russ attended Chico State College for two years. They had two children — Tamara Lee and Ryan Pierce. The Miltons moved from Susanville to Alturas, California in 1971, where “Russ and Vonda” owned and operated Modoc Motor Parts in Alturas and Cedarville, until they retired in 2005. They were married for 52 years until Vonda passed in 2012 from cancer.

Russ was an active volunteer in the community. He was a founding member of the Alturas Chamber of Commerce (started Community Calendar, planted trees on Main St and Alturas Citizen of the Year in 2000), a member of the Alturas Rotary Club, a member of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, a volunteer with the Alturas Fire Department for 20 years (Captain Company B for 12 years) and worked relentlessly on Alturas Community Theater projects.

Russ took his grandsons Cody and Kenny to volunteer time with him on the theater projects. He invented a battery charger for fire trucks and Rytam dual size trailer balls. Russ enjoyed woodworking, stained glass projects, flying his airplane, his big dogs Yody and Bear, restoring tractors and tinkering with everything. He and Ryan built an MG Sportster on a Volkswagen bug chassis from a car kit.

Russ and Vonda built their cabin at Eagle Lake where they loved to spend time with family and friends. Russ began researching why the tunnel at Eagle Lake was leaking water after having been sealed in prior years. He was always busy wondering how things worked, tinkering with or fixing them. Russ frequently said “I wonder…” which led to many conversations, adventures and projects. He was a good dad and grandpa, a feisty outspoken character, you knew where you stood with him and what he was thinking.

In 2013 Russ moved to Reno, to be closer to family. While living in Reno he reconnected with high school class mate Kay Hallowell McDonald. He enjoyed spending time with Kay exploring and sight-seeing, visiting and vacationing with family, making new friends and using his player cards at the casinos.

Russell is survived by his companion Kay McDonald, of Reno; brother Ron Milton, of Susanville; brother Fred Milton, of Loyalton, California; sister Karla Pombo and husband Al, of Sierraville, California; sister Paula Erle and husband Jim, of Calpine, California; sister-in-law Patty Bertanzoni and husband Phil, of Janesville; sister-in-law Dianna, of Milton Lake City, California; daughter Tami McCollum and husband Jeff Sattley, of California; grandson Cody McCollum, his wife Nicole and great-grandson Cooper, of Vinton, California; grandson Kenny McCollum and wife Jessica, of Reno; and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents, brother Rick, wife Vonda and son Ryan. Due to social distancing rules there will be no official service, however, we will have a Milton Lives Matter Rally on Saturday, Aug. 8, for family and close friends. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to City of Alturas Volunteer Fire Department, 200 W. North St, Alturas, CA 96101; Alturas Community Theater, 127 S. Main St, Alturas, CA 96101 or Lassen High Alumni Association, PO Box 471, Susanville, CA 96130.