Russell John Edens died on May 8 in Bellaire, Michigan, after a difficult year of health challenges culminating in an intense course of chemotherapy. He was 56.
Russ was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on May 26,1966 and grew up in East Lansing where he became a lifelong loyal Spartan fan. Russ was a curious, spirited, and adventurous boy and always made friends easily. From his adolescence onwards he moved through life with affability and grace. With these qualities he found himself forging friendships anywhere he went, throughout his life.
At East Lansing High School, Russ adored hockey and was a formidable goalie. He continued to play as an adult and coached his son Nikolai in Traverse City for many years. After high school, Russ attended Michigan State and Western Michigan universities, graduating with a degree in Math and Computer Science in 1990.
Russ met Ann Burlingame working at camp on Neebish island in the U.P. and they were married in 1992. His first programming job took him to the capital in Olympia, Washington and while he did not fall for politics he did fall for the Pacific Northwest. Russ loved the character of 90s Seattle as well as the proximity to camping, hiking, skiing and canoeing, spending most weekends at Mount Rainer where Ann was a park ranger. They eventually found a house near Green Lake where their daughter Violet (2000) and son Nikolai (2003) were born.
His tech career took off at then-startup Concur where he spent nearly a decade as the chief software architect. His calm demeanor, technical brilliance, and creativity helped him lead Concur from a small startup into a billion-dollar company. In 2005 he moved to Traverse City and co-founded OptiShot with partner Kurt Grafius. This new pursuit combined his love of golf with his technical expertise as they built a golf simulator with worldwide recognition. After Optishot was bought in 2015, he took a job as the CTO at Geotix (acquired by Evvnt) where he enjoyed mentoring his team building an innovative event ticketing system.
Russ knew Micah Sullivan from his MSU years with whom he shared a love of music, attending live shows and music festivals often. They were engaged at the start of 2016 and after navigating a series of health challenges together they wed in 2019 in Traverse City. They enjoyed hosting friends and family for sunsets on the bay on the sailboat and pontoon lounge.
Russ learned guitar as an adult and adored the weekly ritual of taking Violet to her guitar lessons. Russ also loved to cook and considered a culinary career prior to becoming a programmer. He used his skills in the kitchen to bring his friends and family closer together. Anyone who spent time in his kitchen will remember fondly the smell of slow-cooked meat, the sounds of the new band he was listening to, and his smile of contentment at seeing his loved ones gathered together.
He is survived by his wife, Micah Sullivan; children Violet and Nikolai Edens and their mother Ann Edens; step-children Declan, Cassius and Rutger Feeney; mother, Mary Edens; sister, Christine Edens Le Pottier; nephew and godson Luc, nephew Benoît and niece Sophie Le Pottier; in-laws Yves Le Pottier and Diane, Mike, Maura and Keiran Sullivan; Uncle Darwin (Liz) Edens and Aunt Lydia Swerbinsky; cousins Leslie Ugol, Sheila Aiello, Jane Murden, Bryan Swerbinsky and Terri Landowski. He was preceded in death by his father, Thomas Edens, both sets of grandparents, three uncles and three cousins.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) on behalf of Russell: https://donate.nami.org/Russell
A Memorial Service will be held Saturday, July 8 at 3:00 p.m. at the First Unitarian Universalist Congregational Church in Ann Arbor, 4001 Ann Arbor-Saline Rd., Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Arrangements are in the care of the Bellaire Chapel of Mortensen Funeral Homes. Please sign his online guestbook at www.mortensenfuneralhomes.com