John K. Manna
New Castle News
NEW CASTLE —
Honest and dedicated.
That is how those who knew John Russo Jr. well described him after his passing Tuesday.
Russo served as a member of New Castle City Council for more than 17 years at four different times from 1985 through 2009.
“John was truly dedicated to the city of New Castle,” said Christine Sands, who served with him for eight to 10 years on council.
“He really did give his heart and soul to the city.”
In 2005, when he was wrapping up what he believed was his last year on council, Russo was recognized by his peers for his integrity and dedication as a lawmaker.
A plaque was unveiled with his photo, which is mounted on a wall in council chambers.
In 2008, council appointed Russo to fill a vacancy. That gave him the opportunity to finish working on a long-running project, a new zoning ordinance.
It was a goal of both Russo and Sands to have a new zoning ordinance before they left office. That ordinance was adopted in November 2009.
Sands said Russo “was very much interested” in the historical aspects of the city, and he played a big part in adding the North Hill Historic District to the zoning ordinance.
“It was a real honor and privilege to work with him and know his family.”
“A good guy,” is how Richard Costello described Russo.
“He was a great friend of mine.”
Costello said he and his wife, Anita, often joined Russo and his wife, Carolyn, for dinner.
Costello also served on council with Russo.
“He was honest. He would have made a helluva good mayor,” he said of Russo, who had run unsuccessfully three times for that office.
“We’ve lost a good guy.”
Richard Christofer, county Democratic chairman, called Russo “a pillar of the community. Russo’s Pharmacy was part of the Croton area for a long, long time.”
Christofer and Russo were elected to council at the same time in 1984 and served four years together. Russo also served on council six of the eight years Christofer was mayor in the 1990s.
“He brought his knowledge and expertise with him to council and served the people of New Castle,” Christofer said. “He did a real admirable job for the people of New Castle.
“Obviously it’s a loss for his family, but I think it’s a loss for the entire city.
“He was a statesman for New Castle,” he continued. “He wore New Castle on his sleeve.”