Nicholas Callahan Russell—beloved husband, father, son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin, and friend—left this earthly life on February 7, 2021, after a short and unexpected illness. While here, Nick graced us all with his kind heart, humility, keen sense of humor, intellectual curiosity, and unconditional love; and he will continue to do so forever. Nick’s rare ability to connect with the goodness in people was a gift to everyone he touched. Friends and family all know that being with Nick meant feeling acknowledged, accepted, appreciated, and loved. A lifelong friend from childhood said it all when he described Nick as “a true friend in the greatest sense—loyal, loving, full of joy, uplifting, intelligent, up for anything, whip smart, and absolutely the funniest guy. He was one in a million, a no-look three pointer, a hole-in-one, a bright star whose shine will remain on all those who felt his light.”
Nick was born in Sacramento, but spent most of his childhood in Lafayette, CA, attending Burton Valley Elementary, Stanley Middle School, and Acalanes High School. Designated an Advanced Placement Scholar, he stayed local for college, attending UC Berkeley and University of San Francisco. Despite his intellectual prowess, Nick’s most valued learning experiences always happened outside of the classroom while enthusiastically exploring the world with family and friends. To all who knew Nick, his time here seemed much too short, but Nick would be the first to remind us that he experienced so many things that gave his life meaning: taking lots of family vacations to the beach, developing deep and satisfying relationships with friends, playing all kinds of sports at challenging levels (All-Star teams, MVP, All-League), hamming it up with friends in high school musicals, singing at Carnegie Hall, playing cards, traveling the world, fiercely protecting his younger sister Carly, spending memorable holidays with extended family, and becoming a true San Franciscan. He always smiled when talking about San Francisco, saying that it was the place he fell in love with and married his sweetheart Bronwen and raised the light of his life—daughter Merritt. Nick was a true father in every sense of the word, taking Merritt to and from school with almost-daily stops at the neighborhood park; making obstacle courses for her in their Marina flat during the pandemic; dancing and singing together with abandon; reading books galore; having tea parties, entertaining Merritt’s millions of questions with patience and humor; teaching her to swim, ride a bike, and ski; and delighting in her brave and adventurous spirit. Nick never missed an opportunity to encourage Merritt to try new things, take tumbles in stride, and always think about those in need. Lucky for all of us, Merritt has the same gleam in her eye as her daddy, sharing his humor, love of music, athleticism, playfulness, big heart, and unbounded curiosity.
Nick worked with great success for over 15 years as a Commercial Real Estate Broker. He was a key member of one of the leading Apartment Investment sales teams in Northern California. Working primarily from San Francisco, Nick represented investors throughout the West, holding the title of Vice President/Director with Cushman & Wakefield, a world leader in commercial real estate services. Nick had a rare ability to understand and analyze the underpinnings of market activity and the insight needed to bring a traditional business into the 21st century. Perhaps his most important business strength was his ability to listen—to understand his clients’ goals and take targeted action to achieve those goals.
Nick will be deeply missed and always held close by his wife Bronwen and daughter Merritt; mother Mia, father Ric, and sister Carly; mother-in-law Karen, father-in-law Alan, sisters-in-law Courtney (Mike) and Ashley (Zach and son Wilder); grandmothers Nini and Betty; aunts Louise, Cris, Connie, Karen, Shelly, and Diane; uncles Gene, Ben, Randy, Tim, and Kevin; first cousins Bree, Erin, Tony (Lindsay), Zach (Rachel), Matt, Kale (Lauren), Meagan (Mike), Ryan (Esmeralda), Kate (Danny), Dane (Kiele) and Anders (Emily); younger generation cousins Stella, Dean, Jamie, Pierce, Spence, Lake, Cooper, Charlie, and Santiago; and his many dear friends, each of whom meant the world to him. Nick was predeceased by his beloved grandfathers Val and Bob; adored uncle Bill; and loving great-grandparents Myme, Norm, Ida, George, Emilia, Eugenio, Catherine, and Louis.
Nick has not left us; he never will. We can all continue on our earthly journeys with the best lesson we learned from Nick—that a kind and brave heart is impossible to beat. At preschool, Nick always rushed to get one of the coveted Superman capes hanging on the outdoor hooks. He may have outgrown the cape, but he went on to become a super man. He loved more deeply, forgave more readily, and accepted everyone without condition. And he did it with unparalleled sincerity, loyalty, and a sense of humor. We can find peace knowing that he has been welcomed into eternal life with a full embrace of unconditional love and the heartfelt exclamation, “Beautifully done, Nick.”
Friends, colleagues, and family will be welcomed to a celebration of Nick’s life and love when it is safe to gather.
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