Major Gary 'Reagan' Russey, USAF Retired
July 6, 2023
Reagan Russey rode across the big divide on June 29, 2023. He was 80 years, 5 months, and 2 days old, which was not long enough. He was born in Ft. Worth, Texas, the second of four sons born to the union of Clifford and Merle Rodgers Russey. The family lived on a ranch along the Trinity River and Reagan enjoyed a childhood full of an extended family, animals, and room to roam. He loved the ranch, his many friends, and was loved and admired. Achieving the Order of the Arrow as an Eagle Scout was something he was quite proud of.
Reagan received a BS in Range Management from Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas, and moved on to the University of Wyoming, completing a MS degree and was enrolled in the PhD program. He was commissioned in the Air Force in August 1968, serving until his retirement in November 1991. He was stationed all over the world, primarily in the Pacific... "driving" primarily C-130s. Reagan flew with distinction over Vietnam for 4 ½ years, earning medals, the respect of his comrades, and a profound disgust for the war and politics.
He lived in Alaska for 40 years, continuing to fly as a bush pilot after retiring from the Air Force. Hunting, fishing, flying, and enjoying all Alaska has to offer, including his own little cabin on the Kuskokwim River was his joy to share with friends and family. He flew as a support pilot for the Iditarod dog sled race for 25 years and for years flew visitors onto Mt. McKinley.
When he left Alaska, he spent several years traveling the West, looking for a place to settle. He met Carol May, a recent widow, who lived on a buffalo ranch, in a feed store in Thermopolis, Wyo., on September 1, 2016. They bonded within 3 days and were allowed 6 years and 9 months together. He loved the ranch, the buffalo, the wildlife, and Carol.
Reagan was magical, charming, funny, intelligent, well educated, and had a wide-ranging curiosity. He loved to laugh and had a wonderful sense of fun. He liked people and could talk to anyone. He loved animals and carried a pocketful of dog treats in order to indulge any dog he met, insuring he knew their name for when they met again. He was an excellent, doting father and served as a supporting father figure to many who reciprocated his affection. Reagan had love to give, and was lavish with his affection and joy of life.
While Reagan could be testy, was politically incorrect with a vengeance, and impatient with fools, he was also forgiving, generous to a fault, and could see good in most people. He truly left this world a better place and all of us who knew him have been enriched. His life was rudely interrupted. I am sure he is finding new adventures with family and friends. I hope he is seated at the celestial poker table, surrounded by congenial, laughing companions with a glass of heavenly scotch in hand. Save a place for us and the dogs, too.
Reagan has left behind his wife Carol May; daughter, Christy Russey and family of Anchorage, Alaska; brother, Terry Russey (Elizabeth) and daughters of Houston, Texas; Sam and Cassidi May and family; Mattilynn, Cameron, and Tommy of Antlers Ranch, Wyo .; Rowdy Dean, Tina, Logan, and Raegan of Evanston, Wyo .; and hundreds of friends, both human and furry.
Cremation services have been entrusted to Ballard Funeral Home. Memories can be shared on Reagan's page at http://www.BallardFH.com