Russell Stoddard (1959-2024), on Friday, January 5, 2024, this world lost an incredible husband, father, grandfather, friend and all-around wonderful person. Russell Leroy Stoddard lost his 3-year battle with COVID-19. He fought incredibly hard until the very end and eventually died peacefully surrounded by his wife, children and close friends.
Russ was born in 1959 to Charles and Anna (Decker) Stoddard in Grayling, Michigan. He grew up in Grayling and later in nearby Frederic where he developed a love for nature and the outdoors. He attended Grayling High School and spent much of his spare time riding along with his dad who was the Constable of Fredric Township. These trips with his dad inspired him to become active as a volunteer Ambulance Driver and Firefighter once he became an adult.
Russ enlisted into the Navy in 1983 and after basic training became a Navy medic. After returning to civilian life in 1988, he continued to help others by participating in the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department Reserves Program.
He married his wife, Nancy (Wojcik) in 2001 and they raised their two beloved daughters, Chelsea and Shelby in Capac, Michigan. They had a loving relationship and a very happy family until he lost Nancy to cancer in 2019.
Russ was a hard worker who was not afraid to take chances and try new things. He opened his own Concrete Company, Mr. Concrete, early in his career. Years later, he tried a new and daring venture and he co-founded the Directional Drilling Company. But he really hit his stride when, while noticing the abundant number of deer and other animals on the side of Michigan roads, he wrote to then Governor Engler and offered to contract with the State of Michigan to remove them. The State executed a contract with him and his successful business ‘Michigan Highway Hazard Recovery’ was born.
Throughout his life, Russ enjoyed nature. He loved to hunt deer and bear. He loved to fish, camp, go to the beach and spend as much time in Michigan’s thumb as possible.
In 2020 Russ met and married the other love of his life, Janna (Canada) Stoddard. Their exuberantly active and deliriously happy romance during a global health crisis was an inspiration. They spent their time continuously in motion and shared a perpetual laughter. They married in December of 2020 and Russ gained an entirely new family to blend with his own. There was nothing Russ loved more than family. His love for his daughters was profound but his love for his granddaughter, Aubrey, took family to a whole new level. After marrying Janna, Russ made it his goal to meet and connect with his new family with uncompromising determination. It seldom mattered what they were doing, as long as they were doing it with people they loved and that they were makin’ memories (as Russ would put it).
It is impossible to count the people that Russ loved and, in turn, the people that loved him. He touched lives as effortlessly as most of us touch an everyday object. He was thirsty for adventure, craved companionship and was hands-down the most optimistic person you’ve ever met.
During his nearly 3-year battle with COVID-19, he was told repeatedly that there was nothing to be done. He and Janna rejected those comments, shifted, and proceeded full speed ahead in a new direction. They ultimately found their way to a U of M doctor who was willing to offer a lung transplant. Throughout his illness, Russ consistently conveyed his appreciation for life, his genuine gratitude for the time that he has been given, and his complete faith that he was going to win this battle. He may not have won the war, but his heart, optimism and unending support from his family and friends bought him two and a half extra years that many people in his position would not have enjoyed.
Russ is survived by his wife, Janna (Canada), his daughters Chelsea LaRoche (Jonathon), Shelby Stoddard, Erica McCann (Chuck Sorrell) and Jessica McCann. His grandchildren Aubrey, Emersyn, Greyson, Huck and Cru and his sister Patricia Gabriel (Matthew).
He is proceeded in death by his parents Charles and Anna Stoddard, wife Nancy (Wojcik) Stoddard, brother James Stoddard (Beverly) and Vicki White (Douglas).
A Celebration of Russ’s Life will be held 1-6 p.m., Sunday, January 14, 2024 at Boulder Pointe Golf Club, 1 Champion’s Circle, Oxford, MI 48370.
Russell would want to encourage everyone reading this to consider becoming an organ donor.
In lieu of flowers, the family would like donations to be made to: Gift of Life a charitable organization based in Michigan that helps to match donors with recipients. https://giftoflifemichigan.org/
Arrangements were entrusted to Muir Brothers Funeral Home, 225 N. Main Street, Imlay City, MI.
Please be sure to sign our online register at www.muirbrothersfh.com to share condolences and memories with the Stoddard family.