For SunBird residents, most would wink at St. Patrick’s Day and move on. Others might guzzle a green beer or attempt a geriatric Irish jig. But it is more symbolic for Trisha and Ron Russell who chose that event for their wedding 43 years ago.
Both grew up in Salem, Oregon. Each attended high school, one in each of the two different schools. They were introduced by Ron’s friend and went swimming on the blind date. Ron, an athlete in basketball and softball, attempted to impress Trisha with his prowess in the water only to discover she was an accomplished swimmer.
Trisha, now an excellent pianist, began lessons in the second grade and continued though the sophomore year. Her mother was a vocalist and though not the choice of Trisha, preferred she learn opera and the classical pieces.
She studied vocal through high school and Oregon College of Education and earned a BS in Elementary Education. This led to seven years of teaching first grade and kindergarten. “Teaching was not my first choice, and my beginning salary was under $3,400,” she recalled. “Once, when I slapped a belligerent teen, I thought I would be fired the first year. When I called the mother, she simply said, ‘Well, he probably asked for it.’” She also remembers the women teachers who coached some of the girls’ sports weren’t paid, while the men coaches were.
After the teaching years, for the next 25 she was employed as an investigator for the Division of Finance and Corporate Securities, work she found very rewarding.
Ron’s young life was as interesting. In high school he was center on the basketball team. “I was 6’2” but there were few of the 6’7” plus players then. Now the basketball guards are that tall.” He claims he had little interest in academics, but after several various colleges through the years, he did graduate with a BS degree in Business Administration.
For nearly four years, Ron was in the USAF and was stationed in Germany the day President Kennedy was assassinated. “The German people really liked President Kennedy” he commented. He attained the rank of E-4.
For 29 years he drove a semi-truck for a large food company, mostly throughout the Portland, Vancouver areas. “I could never stand to work behind a desk,” he said. He had one major wreck, emerging unhurt, and saw plenty of bad automobile drivers.
The couple discovered SunBird and began arriving for the winters in 1991. Becoming permanent residents, they experienced their first monsoon season this summer.
Their interests, besides their four children and 12 grandkids, is golf for both. Ron had a hip replacement recently to make playing less painful. Trisha is involved in quilting, lapidary, SunBird Singers and plays piano often for the SunBird Community Church.
Both agree SunBird is a great place with its new pool, the golf course, excellent weather and all the friendly people. And we all agree.