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Ferdinand J. Russo Jr. 1949-2021

Ferdinand “Fred” or “Junior” Joseph Russo Jr., passed away at Bristol Hospital (Bristol, CT) peacefully during the early morning hours of January 8, 2021 at the age of 71.

Fred was born on May 27, 1949 in Portland, Maine to the late Ferdinand and Phyllis (Cartonio) Russo.

Predeceasing Fred are his parents and a sister, Agatha Butcher.

Surviving Fred are his wife of almost 49 years, Donna (Andrews) Russo of Bristol, CT; his three sons Thomas Russo of Bristol, CT; Mark and his wife Kelli Russo of Southington, CT; and Christopher Russo of Durham, NC; a sister Josephine Desarno of Portland, ME and two brothers Ralph Russo of Portland, ME and Anthony Russo of Falmouth, ME. Also surviving are Fred’s beloved granddaughters Allie (5) and Reese (2) as well as countless adored cousins, nieces, and nephews.

Due to the Covid-19 restrictions, the family has chosen to delay a memorial service until later in the year when one will be held outdoors and following a mass held in Fred’s honor. In lieu of flowers, the family encourages honoring Fred with a contribution to the American Cancer Society (

Fred grew up in Portland, Maine, the youngest of 5 kids where he was a standout athlete; especially in baseball and football. After graduating from Portland High School in 1967, he continued his baseball and football careers while pursuing an education at Bates College in Lewiston, ME. During their freshman year at Bates, he and his wife Donna met for the first time. They graduated from Bates College in 1972 and then Fred followed Donna back to her hometown of Bristol, CT where they married, bought a house and started their family. They’ve remained residents of Bristol, CT ever since.

Fred spent his career teaching high school science. It started when he taught General, and Advanced Biology as well as Physical Science at St. Paul’s Catholic High School (Bristol, CT) from 1972 to 1976. He was also an assistant football coach and varsity tennis coach while working at St. Paul. During that time, he attended Central Connecticut State College to pursue his master’s degree in Biology. In the fall of 1976, Fred started working at Berlin High School in Berlin, CT where he taught General Science and Biology. Later he served as science department head from 1981-1986 and was selected as “Teacher of the Year,” for the 2001-2002 school year. After 37 years of teaching for Berlin High School, Fred officially retired in 2013. However, he continued teaching on a part-time basis at Berlin High School until January of 2015.

For all those who were ever coached or taught by Fred as well as those that had the privilege of working with him -- every one would have nothing but the kindest words to describe the special person that he was and the positive way he’d light up the day of everyone around him.

He loved his family more than anything in the world and you couldn’t miss hearing him at baseball, football and soccer games cheering on his beloved three sons and critiquing the referees. Also, in his free time, he enjoyed playing golf, often with some of his cousins. But nothing brought more joy to Fred’s life than his granddaughters. He had nothing but pure pride and joy when he held Allie for the first time when she was born in April of 2015. Allie’s early years saw more than a couple afternoon naps with a head on Fred’s shoulder and listening to “Buppa” (as she named him) singing “Silent Night” or “Edelweiss,” to her. Then Reese joined the family in January of 2019 only to bring more love and happiness to what the best part of his life was. Buppa’s two special girls made him eternally proud and even to his last days, the mere mention of their names still put the biggest smile on his face.

Finally, the family would like to thank the Bristol Hospital Cancer Care Center, their doctors and nurses for their committed care over the years.

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We are sorry to hear of such a great loss. Please know we are thinking of you during this difficult time. Paul & Holly Denis

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Valerie Romano
Valerie Romano
23 feb 2021

I had to walk by Fred's classroom every morning and there was never a day he wasn't belting out his favorite oldie, or talking with students, or shaving, or all three! Fred had a wonderful magnetic smile that made you happy to be near him. The students loved him because he respected them and accepted them for who they were but he could always get the best out of even his low achieving kids! He was a wonderful part of Berlin High School...there will never be another Fred.


Valerie Romano

Former Math Dept colleague

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I'm so sad to hear this news and so sorry for your tremendous loss. Fred was a spectacular role model at Berlin high school. As a tear rolls down my face, I'm hearing his boisterous rendition of "Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day..." in the hallways, during passing time or on one of our Upbeat trips to Camp Woodstock. I can't recall a single time he wasn't spreading positivity among the faculty & students. Everyone loved and respected Fred Russo.


Rose Weed, former BHS Special Ed staff member (2001-2007).

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