Obituary: Theodore Russ Dunn


Theodore Russ Dunn died on September 1, 2021, while hunting grouse near the Continental Divide on land bordering Big Sheep Creek MT. He was 83 years old.

Russ was born on March 28, 1938 in Colon Panama to Captain Theodore Lamar Dunn and Marie Russ Dunn. He attended George Washington High School in Alexandria, Virginia, and was very proud to be a member of the Old Dominion Rowing Club and to have won the National High School Championship for Eight-Oar Shells in 1956. Afterwards Upon graduation he followed his family tradition and became a cadet at West Point, graduating in 1960 with an engineering degree.

In 1960, cadets were given the choice of entering the Marine Corps or the Army for their period of service. Russ chose the Marines and after training at Camp LeJune, North Carolina, began touring the Mediterranean and eventually became a tank commander serving at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Distraught after his military service and after many heart-wrenching adventures in his old Pontiac convertible, he survived long enough to make the decision to study law and enrolled in Georgetown University Law School. There he found his true calling and after graduating with the highest honors and becoming editor of the Law Review, he graduated in 1965. He married Pat Lyon in 1962 and had two children. , Jennifer Ann and John Warren. He then divorced.

Always looking for an adventure, Russ chose Alaska to begin his law practice. In 1969, he co-founded Dunn Bailey and Matthews. Russ has distinguished himself as a general counsel specializing in aviation and product failure cases. He has won numerous unprecedented awards and helped establish the strict product liability law in Alaska.

Russ was an active and effective environmentalist. He founded the Alaska chapter of Trout Unlimited. Its persistent advocacy for the regulation of catch-and-release fishing met with strong resistance at first from state officials, but ultimately won out. As a result, many of Alaska’s major trout streams have been placed under catch and release management. Russ was a board member of the Alaska Conservation Society and served on the small ad hoc committee that was instrumental in the creation of the 500,000-acre Chugach State Park near Anchorage. His name is inscribed on a plaque at the entrance to the park.

Russ fly fished statewide and took an annual boat trip with friends on wild rivers that was memorable for the spicy food, mocking limericks, and the occasional bout of pure survival. He briefly owned and piloted a seaplane. But he gave up flying in favor of a long, happy life soon after long landing on the state’s largest lake and placing a wing in a hangar that was the only building within 10 miles. He enjoyed climbing mountains and cross-country skiing. He enjoyed hunting highland game and walking the ridges of south-central Alaska the most.

After 16 years in Alaska, Russ decided to see what life would be like in the “Lower 48” and moved to Bozeman in 1978. He knew his love of the law was paramount, but he also knew he needed. a place to get away from it all. It was then that he and 4 Alaskan friends purchased a small ranch, built at the turn of the century, near Dell, MT. A log cabin, log barn, bunkhouse, and Big Sheep Creek trout stream do the trick. It was a place of breathtaking beauty and quiet seclusion where fish were plentiful and grouse were always easygoing.

Once settled in Bozeman, Russ began a partnership with Jim Goetz and Bill Madden to form the Goetz Madden and Dunn company. After Russ bought the Ketterer Building, he and his partners spent many nights sanding old wood floors and drinking questionable whiskey. He then sold the building to the practice.

In 1983 he married Ruth Attebury and together they had two sons, Thomas Joseph “Joe” and Robert Edward “Rob”. After a devastating battle with lymphoma in 1997, Russ left Montana and returned to his beloved Virginia to find peace and try to recover. The sea air and outdoor activities seemed to help her heal. Russ wasn’t the type to sit idle for long.

After settling in Harborton, Va., A small fishing village on Chesapeake Bay, he purchased a former Norwegian ship captains house with an attic on the third floor and access to a “widows’ promenade” on the ground floor. -above. While he was slowly renovating the house, Russ had to cover the ceiling of this third floor to prevent his young sons from taking their friends to visit the roof. Many friends from Montana have visited over those six years and have been treated with soft-shell crabs, freshly picked crabmeat from local sailors, and boat trips to the barrier islands.

Not about to waste all the seawater around him, Russ decided to introduce the students at his sons’ school to the sport of rowing. The only problem being that they had no boat or equipment. After calling the Naval Academy, Russ learned that there was a used four-seater hull available. Without wasting time and with his family in tow, he left the following week to bring this boat back. Driving from Annapolis to Virginia at night on the busiest highway between New York City and Florida with a large boat and trailer is a testament to his commitment. Russ’s freshman crew are not doing well. The second year was spectacular with his crew winning first place in the Novice Division at the Broad Bay Challenge in Norfolk, Virginia.

As a private citizen, Russ continued to fight corporate interests, including a company seeking to dump trash on a historic island in Chesapeake Bay. State officials quietly approved it. Russ personally fought against the project with his own meticulous approach and managed to stop all the effort.

In 2003 he felt strong enough to return to Montana and began Of Council training in Bozeman with Mike Cok and Mike Wheat at Cok Wheat Brown and McGarry, and later with Mike Cok and Travis Kinzler at Cok Kinzler. Russ had previously been inducted into the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers and was honored by the Montana Trial Lawyers Association with his Career Achievement Award.

As a prominent lawyer and with excellent co-counsel in Alaska, Montana and Wyoming, he has rendered judgments against Boeing Aircraft, Volkswagen Corp., The Alaska Pipeline, Bell Helicopter, Honda Motors, Caterpillar Corp. and General Motors. Russ was a risk taker with little use for convention or decorum and skillfully took on the challenge of technical cases where he could match his engineering knowledge as well as his legal acumen against much bigger enemies.

Russ fully retired in 2013 and despite various health issues he spent the last few years doing what he had done as a boy and young man, cherishing the outdoors and causing chaos every time he got there. could. He was a staunch friend and a man who always brought a dry sense of humor to any situation he encountered.

He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Ruth; his sons, Joe and Robert de Bozeman; her daughter, Jennifer and husband Toby Day de Bozeman; his son, John, his wife Heather, and his granddaughters, Virginia and Lorielei, all of Denver. Also his cousins, Joe Russ of Fort Collins, CO, Bill Russ (Jenny) of Spring, TX, and Lynne Jamieson (Bill) of Washington, DC; and his closest and most trusted friend, Rich Anderson of Billings. Russ was predeceased by his father, Theodore Dunn, and his mother, Marie Dunn.

Cremation has taken place and memorials can be made to the American Heart Association, Nature Conservancy, or any charity of your choice.


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