It is with great sadness that the family of Russell Montalbetti announces his passing on October 24, 2019 at the age of 88. He said just two weeks ago that he thought he was young at 88. Russell will be lovingly remembered by his wife, Joyce (Hill-Johnston); his children, Cindy (Martin Siegen), Cathy (Blair Painter) and Donald (Lori Prentice); stepchildren, Chris Johnston, Deborah (Gary Frederickson) and Lori (Brian Ogertschnig); his special sister, Joann Hauck; and son-in-law, Don (Dianne) Martin.
Russell was cherished by his grandchildren, Jordan (Jodie) and Joel (Megan) Painter, Alicen and Jillian Montalbetti, Krista Fath, Adam Johnston, James and William Johnston, Jenny (Janis) Rosbrough, Rick and Kendall (Peyton) Frederickson, Amy (Devin) Ferner and Jessica (Enrique) Mayen. Fondly called Nonno, he played a key role in his grandchildrens’ lives teaching many life skills like shooting bows and arrows and the importance of a good Blackjack game. Deep down he was still a kid at heart. Nonno loved his sixteen great grandchildren, with special affection for Brynnlie, Micky, and Sullivan Painter. He will be greatly missed by his extensive extended family, especially sisters-in-law, Helen Salus, Eileen Forward, and Donna Phiefer; and brother-in- law, Bob (Marg) Lybacki.
Russell was born August 3, 1931 to Aldo and Rachel Montalbetti in Coleman, Alberta. He grew up in Coleman surrounded by a large community of friends and family which extended over to Trail, British Columbia. After graduating from high school, he attended SAIT to pursue an electrical career where he met his future wife, Alice Lybacki. In 1953, they were married and together they raised Cindy, Cathy and Donald in a bustling Coleman. By 1956, Russell acquired his Master Electrician Certificate and joined his parents in their hardware and electrical contracting business, know as Modern Electric. During the next thirty years, Russell apprenticed numerous electricians including his son and two of his sons-in-law. Years later his grandsons followed in his footsteps; one as an electrician and one in the hardware business. By 1974, Alice and Russell expanded their business by joining the Link Hardware Program, which later became Home Hardware. During these busy years Russell was a member of the Coleman Curling Club, the Knights of Columbus, Coleman Legion and served on Coleman Town Council. Russell was also a founding member of the Crowsnest Museum and a member of the Eco Museum Trust. His great love was being a member of the Coleman Fire Department. He was a volunteer firefighter with the Coleman Department for sixty years and was awarded the Fire Services Exemplary Service medal in 1987 and 1992. He loved spending time with his family and friends at the cabin in Corbin, where he’d go either “hunting or fishing”. Russell planned fun summer vacations for the family including going to Fairmont, British Columbia; a tradition which he continued with his grandchildren. Russell also loved scuba diving, fishing, tennis, curling, pool and bocci. He loved to be active; and he loved to work.
Russell lost Alice in October 1992 after sharing thirty-nine beautiful years together. In 1996, Russell began a second phase in his life and married Joyce Hill-Johnston. They enjoyed twenty-three years of a loving marriage which included travels to the Caribbean and Mexico before settling into retirement in Blairmore, AB.
Russell was predeceased by his parents, Aldo and Rachel; his wife, Alice; his stepsons, Darrell and Kevin Johnston; his sister-in-law, Frances Ritchie; and brothers-in-law, Andy Salus, Colin Hauck and Charles Ritchie.
As per Russell’s request, there will be no funeral. A private gathering of family and friends will be held. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Crowsnest Museum (Box 306, Coleman, AB, T0K OMO). Condolences may be registered at www.fantinsfuneralchapel.ca.
“I DID IT MY WAY.”
Fantin’s Funeral Chapel entrusted with the arrangements.
To send flowers to Russell's family, please visit our floral section.