Funeral for YFD battalion chief scheduled for Thursday

Staff report


Ronald Russo, the longest-serving firefighter in the Youngstown Fire Department, will be laid to rest later this week.

Calling hours are scheduled from 3 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Rossi Brothers & Lellio Funeral Home in Boardman, and a prayer service followed by a funeral are scheduled for Thursday morning. Prayers will be at 9:30 a.m. at the funeral home, and the funeral service will be at 11 a.m. at Poland United Methodist Church.

Russo, a fire department battalion chief, died Friday after a motorcycle accident in Ashtabula County. Russo, 64, of Poland, was riding a motorcycle Friday afternoon in Saybrook Township when he collided with a van at the intersection of state Route 45 and North Bend Road. Russo was life-flighted to University Hospitals in Cleveland, where he died.

In an interview with The Vindicator and a tribute in today’s paper, family members remembered Russo as a dedicated father, husband, grandfather, and brother, and as someone who always put others ahead of himself. Russo served with the fire department for 37 years. He comes from a strong family tradition of public service – his father was a city fire department fire chief, his twin brother was a city fire department battalion chief, and his other brother is a Mahoning County deputy sheriff.

“He was the greatest guy there ever was,” his son, Rocky Russo, told The Vindicator Friday. “When everybody was running out of a building, he was running in, and when he wasn’t saving strangers, he was an incredible family man.”

Russo leaves his wife, Joann; four children; two stepchildren; seven grandchildren; two brothers; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins, according to the tribute provided by his family.

Mayor John A. McNally said he will speak with Fire Chief John O’Neill today about any plans the fire department has for honoring Russo, although he said the department likely will defer to whatever Russo’s family wants. McNally said he was in touch with O’Neill over the weekend.

“As of [Saturday], obviously it still stung very deeply. This will be a difficult week for them, and unfortunately with everything with the Girard Police Department as well,” he said, referring to the shooting death Saturday of a Girard police officer.

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