Russell Lee Kirkland passed away on Friday, October 7, 2022 at the age of 79 after a battle with congestive heart failure. He is preceded in death by his darling wife of 53 years, Karin, who was his high school sweetheart. Russ was much loved and will be sorely missed by his family – daughters Lee Ann Gibson and Dana Kirkland, son-in-law Patrick Gibson, granddaughters Holly Lewis and Hillary Smith, grandsons-in-law Nathan Lewis and Michael Smith, and his new great-granddaughter, Hope Smith, as well as many dear friends.
Russ was born in Homestead, Pa. on November 25, 1942 to June and Charles Kirkland, the oldest of four children. He graduated from McKeesport High School in McKeesport, Pa. and as a young groom, attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania. There, he earned his undergraduate degree in education, teaching school for several years before transitioning to Ohio and then northwestern Indiana, where he climbed the ranks of Youngstown Steel to reach the position of assistant superintendent.
After a family driving trip one summer, Russ and Karin fell in love with the landscape and pace of life in the desert southwest, so they bought a Sears Catalog Store in Socorro, N.M. and moved the family there in 1978. Russ and Karin enjoyed working together, and the store remained open for 15 years. Russ then ran a Western Auto store for a short time before opening Tri-County Appliance Repair. He loved running his own business and being his own boss. Many folks in or near Socorro have Russ to thank for their appliances running smoothly. He was always happy to troubleshoot mechanical issues and was the first to call for many when problems arose, and it was a real loss for the area when he retired.
Russ was an active member of the First Presbyterian Church in Socorro, N.M. He had many interests and passions including crossword puzzles, camping, golf, horseback riding, bird watching, and of course, his many beloved dogs who, no doubt, met him at the Rainbow Bridge. Russ’s final resting place will be with Karin in Philippi, W. Va. In remembrance, the family would welcome donations made to the Animal Protective Association of Socorro. Alternatively, if you would like to sit with a cup of coffee on a quiet morning and challenge yourself with a crossword puzzle, you’ll be engaging in one of Russ’s favorite activities, which would be a lovely way to honor his memory.
An online celebration of Russ’s life will be hosted soon.