April 18, 1958 – February 8, 2023
Valencia– Russell A. “Russ” Novak, 64, of Valenica, Calif., passed away on Feb. 8 after a brief illness
Russ was born April 18, 1958, in Youngstown, Ohio, with copper-colored hair. His dad named him Russell and called him Rusty in hopes that no one would nickname him “Red.” Growing up in Campbell, Ohio, the middle child between two sisters, Russ was quiet but mischievous and delighted in playing pranks on his sisters.
Russ was a mechanical genius who could fix anything. As a toddler, he incessantly asked his parents one question: “What dat and what do it do?” From the age of three, Russ’ father and uncle sat him in the engine of a car with a wrench, happily covered with grease. He once converted his sister’s standard transmission to an automatic when she complained of rolling backward down hills. He had a series of cars he loved, including a Mustang, a 1969 Corvette, a Dodge Dakota truck, but his El Camino was his pride and joy.
The son of three generations of steelworkers, Russ believed in the value of hard work. Following his graduation from Campbell Memorial High School, he worked his way through Youngstown State University as a metal worker at Commercial Shearing, a major maker of pressed metal shapes and steel underground supports. After earning a degree in Mechanical Engineering, Russ moved to California in the early 1980s where he began a 35-year career as an aerospace engineer at HR Textron (later purchased by Woodward), one of the world’s leading suppliers of mission systems and products for aircraft and guided weapons. His job was to translate the engineers’ designs for the production line and oversee ultra-precise quality control of products including servo valves.
Over his lifetime, Russ had a wide variety of interests. As a kid, he was always experimenting with ways to fly. He loved aviation and would have pursued a career as a pilot, if not for his astigmatism. He earned his recreational pilot’s license and even rented a plane to tour the Hawaiian Islands when visiting his sister there. He learned to cook from his Italian mom, made his own pizza dough and was a master at the barbeque grill.
Russ purchased a townhouse on a golf course in Valencia where he lived for over 30 years. He loved to golf with his buddies and camp and ride dirt bikes in the California deserts and forests with his dear friend, Janice. He would often take friends sailing out of Marina Del Ray and ride his motorcycle in the California hills. Following a heart attack, he took up long-distance bicycle racing with Janice, who routinely left him in the dust. In recent years, he gave up more active pursuits, but remained a lifelong and loyal Cleveland Browns fan and rarely missed watching a game.
A kind and gentle soul, Russ made friends easily and was a go-to person when his coworkers needed a sympathetic ear.
An animal lover, Russ was predeceased by his dog, Xena, the warrior princess. When his best friend Lee died, Russ adopted Lee’s little black cat, Tori, and delighted in her high wire antics.
Russ cherished his family and friends and will be sorely missed by all. He leaves his beloved friend, Janice Boyd; his sisters, Debra (Stephen) Leo, and Dina (Paul) Ruden; his niece, Corinne Long; his nephew, Travis (Liz Paccione) Leo; and his maternal aunt Nancy (Tom) Abeid. His father, Melvin Novak, and mother, Josephine Caggiano Novak, predeceased him.