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Legacy: A Tribute to Russ Lanoway

Updated: Nov 8, 2020

Dear friends of Icelandic Roots,

One of our best and brightest genealogists has passed on suddenly at the age of 77. The entire team is shocked and saddened by the loss of our dear friend, dedicated genealogist, and teammate, Russ Lanoway. Many thousands of people have been helped and their lives touched by his volunteer genealogy volunteer work through Icelandic Roots. This post is a way of showing our respects and to honour his life.

On the weekend of the two biggest Icelandic festival‘s in Canada and the USA, Russ and his wife, Gwen, volunteered for three days, as usual, at the genealogy sessions with 6-7 other IR volunteers. Friday and Saturday the team held presentations and genealogy sessions at The Deuce of August in Mountain, ND.

On Sunday, August 4th, we were at the New Iceland Heritage Museum in Gimli, MB during Íslendingadagurinn. After the very fun and successful weekend, seven of the IR team met for an early dinner in Gimli. Russ and Gwen returned to their Winnipeg home along with another IR genealogist and friend, Cathy Josephson, from Vopnafjörður. A few hours later, Russ suddenly passed away.

Russ is survived by his wife Gwen of 55 years, his children Carmen and Tyler, grandchildren Ava and Dryden, brother Michael (Audrey) and their children (Shane, Travis and Cory).  He is predeceased by his parents Henry and Alma.

Russell James Lanoway born in Beausejour, MB on 20 Feb 1942. He lived in Winnipeg and was stationed overseas for duty to his country. He was an active member of the 402 Squadron in Winnipeg and active with the Manitoba Game and Fish. Russ was not born Icelandic but by marrying Gwen, he became “Icelandic by Marriage” and he embraced it fully.

Russ worked nearly 35 years at MTS and then as a Telecom Consultant. He also lead the Technology team at the Pan Am Games from 1997-1999.

We know Russ not only as a valuable IR Team member and friend but as a wonderful father, grandfather, and husband. He was very proud of his family and spoke of them often during the weekly online IR team meetings. His son, Tyler, came to Gimli and to the IR Genealogy seminar. The event was held in the beautiful Lady of the Lake Theatre in The New Iceland Heritage Museum.

Russ was an important, trusted, and dedicated member of the Icelandic Roots team. We call Russ and Gwen the “dynamic duo.” Together, they worked online, in books, in the archives, in cemeteries, and performing research. They had completed their own genealogy work years ago and then began "giving back" to others through their work with the nonprofit charity, Icelandic Roots.