August 24, 1937 ~ October 8, 2020
Born in: San Francisco, California
Resided in: Fremont, California
Marilyn Ruth Russo (née Martinez) passed away on October 8, 2020 after a battle with bladder cancer. Born in San Francisco on August 24, 1937, Marilyn was a larger-than-life presence: gregarious, talkative, opinionated, and most of all loving. From friendships begun during her days at Star of the Sea Elementary and High schools to travel companions in retirement years, Marilyn spent her life building and cultivating relationships — she was even known to pick up friends for her children.
The most important relationships in her life, though, were her family. When she was introduced to Thomas Russo by a dear friend, she was, in true Marilyn fashion, decisive (says Tom: “After a couple dates, I said, ‘I think I love you,’ and the next thing I knew I was getting married!”). The couple married in 1964, and the large, loving (and loud) family they created was their shared passion throughout their 56 years of marriage. Ask her five children Marilyn’s motto and they’ll all laugh, “You’re only as happy as your saddest child.” But as much as Gregg Russo, Elise Markel, Scott Russo, Kristen Merghart, and Suzanne Russo joked with their mother about her constant worrying, love of pictures with matching clothing, and “unique” organizational style, they’re all grateful for her fierce devotion to and unfaltering pride in them. Her children-in-law (Tiffany Russo, Paul Markel, Denise Russo, and Steve Merghart) fondly remember her easy humor and the endless adoration she bestowed on her eleven grandchildren. And her grandchildren (Alyssa, Nicolette, and Olivia Russo; Justin and Lauren Markel; Giovanni, Gabriella, and Dario Russo; and Gianna, Nathan, and Zachary Merghart) will forever cherish memories of Nonna’s pumpkin bread, tea parties, special treats, ferry rides, Johnny Rockets’ restaurant adventures, and so much more.
During their 52 years living in Fremont, Marilyn and Tom enjoyed an amazing community of friends-cum-family, mostly from their days as Holy Spirit and Moreau Catholic parents. If friendship were a company, Marilyn would’ve been the CEO — she regularly enjoyed lunches and long phone calls with her many friends, and she loved hosting dinners and parties in her home. After devoting her life to raising children, she got to indulge her love of travel in later years, enjoying many cruises and other trips. She was the nucleus of her vast extended family, keeping tabs on cousins both near and far-flung. And in addition to mothering her five children, Marilyn is considered “honorary mother” by countless others she welcomed and nurtured over the years.
A service will be held on Saturday, December 5 at Holy Spirit. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, in-person attendance is limited, but the service will be streamed for those unable to attend.
Many reading this have received a greeting card (or several) from Marilyn over the years — in sympathy or celebration following significant life events, or just because. If you wish to honor her memory, please send a card to a loved one.