Guerino (Gary) Russo was born on April 14, 1932 in Cleto, Cosenza, Calabria. He was the youngest of a large family. He was raised by his mother, and older siblings, as his father died when Gary was only two years old. His early years were spent on the family’s farm.
In 1952, Gary came to Canada to find a better life than the land in Porcaria area could provide. The early years in Canada were spent working in the forest and on the railway with his Uncle John and brother, Geno. After several years of hard work, Gary was financially secure and ready for the next phase of his life. He followed the Italian tradition and wrote to Antonio Fata, asking for permission to marry Antonio’s daughter, Ida. To Gary’s great pleasure, Ida told her father to say yes. They were married by proxy on December 9, 1954. Ida arrived in Canada in 1955 and their children, Orlando, Lorni and Linda, were born soon after.
Gary and Ida first lived in Winfield, before moving to the Five Bridges area of Kelowna, BC. From there, they moved to a house near Gyro park before building a house on their Benvoulin Road farm. There was never a man who was prouder of his crops or the size of his vegetables. On many an occasion Gary would have his children make signs proclaiming the glory of his produce. Farming wasn’t an art to Gary, it was a science. His rows were the straightest. Planting and tending the crops followed strict rules, followed by all, except for Ida who scattered seeds here and there and managed to grow things just as well.
Soon grandchildren were part of the family. Now came the time for the couple to really enjoy their lives. The grandchildren were the one’s that really got to see the kind and soft side of Gary. The farm was turned over to the children and Gary became a hobby farmer. The fishing and hunting, that had been necessary to feed the family, became a pleasant diversion. Gary and Ida had time to grow grapes and to make wine. They grew figs and planted fruit and nut trees in every corner of the property. Once, when asked why they continued to plant so many trees Gary replied “so our grandchildren will always have something to eat”.
Gary passed away on January 28, 2015 at the age of 82. He is survived by his wife, Ida, three children, ten grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
Wendy Tache Russo
770 Lawrence Ave.