Russ, who grew up in Amityville on Long Island,. attended SUNY College at Fredonia where he earned a Bachelors degree in Music Education in 1963 and a Masters in Education in 1968. During his 34 years career in the East Irondequoit School District, he taught music at all levels. Under his leadership, the Eastridge High School Marching Band won the state championship in 1985 and again in 1992. The highlight of his career was to be named “Outstanding Music Educator” by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in 1996. He began repairing musical instruments in 1968-a service that evolved into Thomas Music, Inc., a business that provides repair services to area school districts and to many individuals. He has been a volunteer fireman with the Point Pleasant Fire Department since 1967; is very active with his church, where he is choir director; and from 1998- 2010 served as conductor of the Irondequoit concert Band.