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In Memory of Fran Russo


When you have been the leader of an organization for more than 40 years, the story of life is that the people that were with you in the beginning are nearing the end of their story and as life goes, I was so sad to receive the call last week that Francis Russo had passed away.

I first met Fran in the mid-1960s when we both were working for the City of Rochester Bureau of Parks and Recreation. We hit it off immediately because we were the same age and had a similar experience growing up. We both had hard-working parents, we both lost our Moms when they were much too young, and both of our Dads were quite the characters. We both loved sports and were both just getting started in our careers.

We became very good friends - Fran was always someone I could talk to. As we each moved on from Parks and Recreation, we stayed close and when Teddi got sick, Fran was right there for me. I have never had the patience for numbers, and it was Fran that introduced me to Ray Cordello who worked in the Finance Department for the County of Monroe. I needed Ray’s expertise to start Camp Good Days. People need to have faith in the charity they’re supporting financially and have confidence in knowing their hard-earned dollars are going exactly where they want them to go. Fran and Ray helped me to achieve the 501(c)3 status we needed and made sure that everything was documented and done correctly to go through the Annual Independent Audit that is required of 501(c)3 charitable organizations. Fran, along with Ray, helped us to start and build the Florida Office. He was someone who was the epitome of loyal, trustful, transparent and of the utmost integrity.

Fran continued to stay involved over all these years. As you go through life, you develop two families - the one you’re born with and the one you choose along the way, comprised of those who become very special friends, like Fran.

Fran was so proud of his sons, Patrick and Joe. I used to go watch Patrick play in his football games and Fran was so excited when he got a full ride to play Division I Football at the University of Connecticut. And he was equally so proud of Joe who went on to be a successful businessman. Both his boys brought him so much joy!

On October 1st, we will begin the 44th year of Camp Good Days and Special Times. If Fran wasn’t there in the very beginning to help me, there wouldn’t be a Camp Good Days. It is because of Fran, and so many others like him, that we have been able to provide a camping experience and so much more for thousands of children and families from all over the world. Children and families dealing with cancer who wouldn’t otherwise have this opportunity. Fran helped to create a place of respite, fun, magic, and joy with the only others who can understand - those going through the same situation.

Fran was fun, joyous and a salt of the earth guy. He had faith in God, was an amazing person with a big heart and truly believed in helping those who are less fortunate. I have been blessed to have him as a friend and confidant.

Sometimes the extraordinary is done by the ordinary - Fran was one of those. He believed in what I wanted to create for my daughter, Teddi, and I will forever be grateful for his years of friendship and dedication. He was truly a wonderful friend, a great husband, father and a person who will be sorely missed.