A celebration of life service will be held from 2:30 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 7, 2019, at the Coeur d’Alene Shriners Hall, 1250 W. Lancaster Road, Hayden, Idaho.

A celebration of life service will be held from 2:30 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 7, 2019, at the Coeur d’Alene Shriners Hall, 1250 W. Lancaster Road, Hayden, Idaho. Bring a pot luck dish to share after the service. Russ’ art and music will be on display and available for sale after the service in support of his wife, Donna, and the changes in her life.

A celebration of life service will be held in Billings, MT in June with the date to be determined.

"Let the Memory of Russell be with us forever"

Russell K. DeVerniero, age 69, passed away on January 23, 2019 in Mount Vernon, WA after a short and brave battle with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, a consequence of his service related exposure to Agent Orange.  Russ was born in Billings, MT on April 3rd, 1949 to Emmanuel (Dee) and Lois DeVerniero. He grew up in Billings surrounded by his cousins Deedie, Linda, Jim and Paul. He was, as he said, the official sauce taster for his Uncle Jim’s restaurant (Jimmy’s Pizzeria) which was right across the street from Senior High. When he was 12 years old he was adopted into the Woodenlegs family of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe. This was a great honor and a lifelong influence in his artwork, music and spiritual life.

Russ graduated from Billings Senior High in 1967 and proudly served in the United States Marine Corps. He was part of one the finest fighting groups in Vietnam the 3rd Marine Division, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, G (Golf) Company- Hell in a Helmet. Upon his return from Vietnam he married his first wife Cynthia Klimper (Hein) they would have 3 children Cathy, Tina and John.  After his marriage, he was sent to Panama to "Guard the canal" from March of 1969 to November of 1970.  After Panama, he and his family moved to San Diego where he served as a Marine Drill Instructor until June of 1971.

After his discharge from active duty in 1971, he was a reservist until 1986. He moved back to Montana and became a Deputy Sheriff for Yellowstone County. There he would start up the first K9 unit for the county which he was passionate about.

The horrors of the war never really left him and in 1979 he felt the need to leave the Sheriff’s office and pursue a gentler calling - his true passion of art. He obtained his degree in Fine Arts from Eastern Montana College (MSU-B) with the help of the GI Bill and became a full-time artist. As an artist he was commissioned to do a Montana Vietnam Veterans Memorial to be displayed at the VA center in Billings. His inspiration for the piece came from the loss of his best friend Mike Padilla at the Battle of Bridge 28 in 1968. He tried a variety of different mediums and was very good at all of them. His precision and detail in his work was phenomenal. He had a driving creative spirit that would not quit, and could not be contained in one medium or style. He was continually in motion, developing and refining his skills and following the inspirations of his soul. His art was displayed at the Montana State Fair in Billings and at galleries in Kirkland, WA and Coeur d’Alene, ID. He has a permanent display at the Coeur d’Alene Public Library.

In 1986 he moved to Seattle to work for the Pacific Science Center and then did various jobs in the Seattle area, working at Aldus Corporation developing software interfaces for Artists in the PageMaker program.  From there he moved on to Microsoft where he tested and assisted in the development a software application called Picture-it, that integrated pictures and the ability to draw on them on the PC platform. In Seattle Russ would meet the woman who would become instrumental in his life, Donna. They married on January 22, 1994 living in the Seattle area until 2002 when they moved to Coeur d’Alene, ID. After settling in Coeur d’Alene Russ started to explore more mediums with his art. Here he created some amazing wood carvings, other mixed media artwork and original music compositions. He made many lifelong friends in Coeur d’ Alene and he and Donna enjoyed a rich social life.

Russ was able to spend the last few years of his life traveling with Donna in their RV exploring the United States and really enjoying the Yuma area during the winter. In the spring of 2018 he and Donna travelled to the Washington DC area for a Marine Corp Reunion honoring the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Bridge 28, where many of his brothers in arms lost their lives. The remaining survivors gathered for activities, events and camaraderie. They toured the USMC Museum, the Vietnam Memorial Wall and many other sites of the area.

With Donna by his side Russ had become the best version of himself and it showed. When he developed his illness, her strength helped him to keep moving forward with a contagious positive spirit. Donna was his rock and she stayed by his side until his last moments.

He always loved spending time with his children and grandchildren when they could get together. He loved to cook and made the most amazing breakfast you would ever have. He was a very loving and giving man who would do anything for his friends and family.

Russ is survived by his beloved wife Donna, daughters Cathy (John) Swan, Tina (Tim) Meyer and son John (Belinda) DeVerniero. 9 grandchildren Samantha (Tim) Downey, Amanda DeVerniero, Jacob (Tiara) Swan, Natasha Andreozzi, Victoria DeVerniero, Nic Meyer, Jenna Meyer, Lucca DeVerniero and Serafina DeVerniero and 3 great grandchildren Theodore, Cullen and Genesis. He was preceded in death by his parents Emmanuel and Lois DeVerniero and grandson Rocco DeVerniero.

Posted by Kevin Kirking on 11th March 2019
Russ and I shared a love of art. I became acquainted with him as a result of our mutual love of art, music and spirituality. He was an important early contributor to the annual Artist Studio Tour hosted by the Coeur d'Alene Arts and Culture Alliance. We spent time together discussing our art and ways to help build a strong art presence in our community. Russ was an extremely talented man in so many areas. He was a good friend and was such a selfless, giving person. I know he inspired me and others along our journeys. He will not be forgotten.
Posted by Mary Lynn Vore on 10th March 2019
Russ was such an inspired artist, kind soul, and true friend. His ready smile and open heart felt so sincere and welcoming that it was a joy to be around him. This world is a better place because of Russ DeVerniero.
Posted by Debbie Sullivan on 4th March 2019
I have known Russ since we were children. Both of our fathers were in the Yellowstone County Sheriff Posse and we have stayed connected through all of these years in both Montana and Washington. Russ was a support during good and bad times. He was loyal to his family and friends. He will be missed by all of us more than words can express.
Posted by Nancy O'Donnell on 1st March 2019
I don't know why all of a sudden I tried to reach out to Russ and it broke my heart to know he has passed I was part of the City County Drug Task Force with him and Russ was the best of the best! I wish that I could have one more minute to tell him how much he mattered to all of us.
Posted by Tom Robinson on 28th February 2019
Mrs DeVerniero, I'm so sorry for your loss. I was in High School with Russ and in the reserves. I volunteer with the Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation. I'm sure Russ was receiving compensation from the VA for his service. As a spouse you are entitled to compensation, too. If Russ's death certificate lists non-hodgkin lymphoma as the cause of death you are are entitled to DIC. If it doesn't list it as the cause get it changed. This looks like a solicitation I can assure you it isn't. Those of us that grew up in the Viet Nam era and served know of the sacrifice made and the lack of appreciation, for our service. You have my email address and if you are interested I'm happy to help. We CHARGE NOTHING. Russ was a good man and Marine, semper fi!
Posted by Nancy O'Donnell on 28th February 2019
I was just thinking about one of the best job I ever had which was with Billings Police and Sheriffs Joint Task Force which I served with Russ and other officers and they always had my back! Then I almost died from pneumonia and Russ came to see me and gave me two beautiful Asian pictures which I loved so very much and somehow lost. And I love you for taking care of him. But please someone tell me how and why he died!!
Posted by Kit Crumb on 27th February 2019
I knew Russ as an artist martial artist and a good human. Short story here. We were teaching some martial art students out of my garage and had a radio going, news broke in about someone breaking into local homes, there was a description. To our surprise the suspect walked down the sidewalk. Russ and I gave chase. Russ wearing a hakima and as we ran he caught his toe in the hem...but instead of falling down he did a perfect roll and came up still running. Russ gave me lessons in sumi-e that I practice to this day. I am honored to have known the man, and though it's been years I'll miss his spirit.

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