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Art Russo, USTA Florida Volunteer, Senior Player, Humble Tennis Servant Passes at Age 82

June 24, 2010 08:56 AM
Art Russo and his wife Martha in their early years
Art Russo upon receiving the USTA Florida Male Merit Award in 2009
USTA Florida extends condolences to the family of USTA Florida volunteer Virge "Art" Russo (1927-2010), who died peacefully in his sleep last week at age 82 in Sun City, Fla. Upon moving to Florida in 1989, Russo became an active volunteer for USTA Florida, making strong contributions to the Adult Competitive and Volunteer councils on which he served, and with organizing Florida's Super Senior Grand Prix tournament circuit.

"In Art's humble fashion he requested no service and his ashes will be placed under a tree next to his daughters," said Russo's long-time friend and top-ranked Florida competitive player Larry Turville. "Art made a huge contribution to USTA Florida in many areas and in particular as the chairman of the Super Senior Grand Prix for many years. He was a great mentor to me and a wonderful person. I will miss him a lot."

Russo was an Air Force veteran who was part of the historic Berlin Airlift. He moved to Florida and took to tennis late in life, but took to it with a passion.

"Tennis was my life, since the first time I played tennis with my wife in 1975," Russo said last year. "I didn't want to just sit on my butt [in retirement], I wanted to go out and play tennis, and I also wanted to contribute something."

Last year upon receiving the USTA Florida Male Merit Award, one of USTA Florida's highest honors, he reflected on his years of service to the Florida tennis community.

"Right now I believe the Merit Award...that's it...I've achieved my goal," said Russo last year upon receiving the award, and comparing it to the many tennis honors he has received throughout his career. "I'll never make the hall of fame," he said smiling, "but I've achieved my goal with the Merit Award."

In additional to national recognition from the USTA as a recipient of the USTA Senior Service Award, as a player Russo traveled to Germany, Austria, Australia, Turkey, Singapore, and Japan to participate in ITF World Championships Tennis senior events, representing the United States.

"Art will be tremendously missed by his USTA Florida family," said USTA Florida President Donn Davis. "He was an extremely knowledgeable tennis enthusiast and one of the most kind and thoughtful people you'd ever want to meet. He was for many, many years a fixture on our Adult Competitive Council and in recent years, he was the driving force on our Volunteer Council behind our updated and streamlined awards system. He was a good friend, one from which I sought council on more than one occasion, and I will miss him dearly."

Russo retired from his tennis activities shortly after receiving the USTA Florida Male Merit Award last year. USTA Florida's Lynne Salus, the organization's volunteer development and meetings manager, worked closely throughout the years with Russo on the Volunteer Council and in his work on the Awards Committee, where for years he in turn helped to honor the commitment of other USTA Florida volunteers.

"Art was a wonderful volunteer and friend," Salus said. "He was a very humble man and didn't want to be in the limelight. Although winning the Merit Award was truly a highlight in his life and something he was very proud of and excited about. He did a phenomenal job as the Awards Committee chair. Although I knew that he was retiring for all the right reasons in December, I was very sad to see him leave our volunteer corp. He touched my life in a way that I will always treasure and he will truly be missed."

Since tennis and USTA Florida were such a special part of Russo's life, the family has requested that donations be made to the USTA Florida Section Foundation, 1 Deuce Court, Suite 100, Daytona Beach, Fla., 32124. Notes may be sent to his family at 1304 Caloosa Lake Court, Sun City Center, Fla., 33573. 






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