Russell Sapel

Born: Plattsburgh on 27 November 1946

Passed away: Puyallup on 12 September 2020

Aged: 73 years

Funeral Date: 24 September 2020

Service Details

Due to Covid-19 the funeral is limited in number of attendees. We will be honoring him at Tahoma National Cemetery on Thursday September 24, 2020.

The Story

On Saturday September 12, 2020 at home and surrounded by family, Russell O. Sapel took his final breath. Born in Plattsburgh, NY to Tida & Robert Sapel. He adored Plattsburgh, but followed his hero and brother Wayne into the Navy in 1964. There he served 3 well-decorated years in Vietnam, earning a Bronze Star with Valor and 2 Purple Hearts. Like so many surprises Russ had in store, after coming home from war, he built a successful career in the beauty supply business in CA. He then rounded out his working years in the software business; spending much of his last decades working from home in his bathrobe, where the coffee was on all day, & his diet consisted mainly of cigarettes. The job he did best of all was father where he taught his kids to work hard, pay attention, look for the good and never give up.

Russ was not the handiest of men. “Fixing” something often meant copious amounts of JB Weld or duct tape. He wasn’t particularly great at following rules either, he once went 15 years without filing a tax return (to which when asked he replied, “what are they going to do? Paint my face green, drop me into a jungle and tell me to survive?”). His superpowers were all things related to people. His legacy is demonstrating unconditional love. Russ was the best kind of sales guy, he lived the Zig Ziglar quote “If you help enough people get what they want, you’ll get what you want.” He was the kind of guy who could say anything to anyone and get away with it. This came in handy as he negotiated deals at flea markets and garage sales always on the look-out for more Rogers Bros First Love patterned silver, often bringing home random purchases he thought others would enjoy.

Russ was preceded by his parents, brothers Robert & Wayne, and sister Iona. He is survived by his wife Holly, children Jenifer, Tiffany, and Jordan and grandchildren Ana, Melvin & Ransom as well as beloved nieces, nephews and card playing friends. COVID-19 is allowing him to execute one of his final wishes; not to be made a big deal out of. He will be honored at Tahoma National Cemetery on Thursday Sept 24th; no reception will be held.

In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the Navy Seal Foundation:

& think of him anytime you enjoy a cup of coffee or game of cribbage.

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Russ is a wonderful person who will be deeply missed. Who is going to help the technology challenged people now. I have known Russ and Holly since Couch appliance days. Both of them have been there for me and I really miss Russ. I have continued txt him every month to just say Hi and make sure that they both were ok. He is very special and I know Holly and the kids are going to miss him alot. What a wonderful person

dionne {dee}

dionne griffin


Russ is and was an awesome and welcoming man. I am thankful that he had his hand is raising such a beautiful person (my newest sister). She's a pretty awesome reflection of your strength and love for family! You will be truly missed. Until next time, Cheers!

Laura Dunkel


Russ and I met when I was 12 and he was 13. I had just moved to Plattsburgh from Dannemora. A girlfriend and I were walking on Oak Street and literally ran into Russ and his friend Lenny. We chatted and moved on. From that day, he was everywhere - we'd meet at the Crystal restaurant with the other teens who congregated there to smoke, eat french fries, and talk. He was at the skating rink behind PHS the first time I went and soon became one of my favorite skating partners. Then there was a day we spent at the City Beach just chatting and swimming. Well, we fell asleep. Imagine our favorite redhead burned to a crisp! He was beet red pretty much all over. And I wasn't in much better shape. We teased each other about our stupidity for years. One of my most treasured memories was receiving letters from Viet Nam - in one particular letter, he was describing a very hot night when all the sailors were sleeping on the deck trying to stay cool. He described it all so vividly, even the "bombs literally bursting in air". I cried. And it really made that horrendous war real to me. We had many, many good times over the years. He was always kind, had a great sense of humor, and our only conflicts rose when our politics recently differed – and differed strongly! Our friendship even got us through that time. And, even though our paths eventually went our separate ways, we always managed to re-connect. Russ was and will always remain of my dearest friends. Rest well, my friend.
Merle "Fran" Kimbell Kelly

merle kelly


Jenifer Sapel shared a video.


Rachel Rumph shared a video.


unforgettable indeed, lmao

Jenifer Sapel


Russ and I grew up together in Plattsburgh, same neighborhood, same schools. I hadn’t run into to Russ for a year or so but was surprised to find him in my company at boot camp. Having a long time friend at boot camp was a bonus. My story is from high school in Mr. Sponable’s auto shop. Russ and I were watching a classmate “Roswell” sawing a ten foot length of pipe secured in a vise. The other end of the pipe was bobbing up and down with each stroke of the hack saw. The end that was bobbing was whacking an armature growler that wasn’t turned on, well that was to much for Russ and I, let’s see if we can magnetize the hack saw!! Well we turned it on and stepped back just in time to see a bright blue flash and a bang, as well as Roswell laying on the floor. “I think we killed him Russ” but alas she got up and dusted himself off. The hack saw blade had a big burn mark but all else was fine, we never let on what had happened. Going to miss our FB chats Rusty, proud to have been a part of your life.
Tom Lavery

Thomas Lavery


As the daughter of this gun-loving Vietnam Vet, you'd think he'd be the guy who was cleaning guns everytime I brought a guy home. He wasn't. I did get a kick out of telling them his battle history just as we pulled into the driveway though.

Anywho....this story is more about how dad had "the talk" with me as a teenager. He simply asked, "remember in the movie When Harry Met Sally when they are driving to NY together?" Yeah dad, I remember. He advised, "listen again to the part where men and women can't be just friends."

Here's the clip for those who need a refresher =)

Jenifer Sapel