Peter Robert Russell (79) passed away peacefully, in his home, on July 10, 2023, after a long illness.
Peter (Pete) was born on January 29, 1944, in Santa Barbara, California. He attended Santa Barbara schools and was an avid and enthusiastic participant in the early days of surfing. He continued surfing throughout his life, always living the “aloha spirit.” He moved to Santa Ynez, California, and graduated in 1962 from Santa Ynez High School, where he was active in sports, excelling in the pole vault and high hurdles.
Pete married the love of his life, Carol Langstaff, while finishing his undergraduate education at UC Santa Barbara, earning a BA and a Master’s degree in Social and Counseling Psychology in 1970. Amidst the social and political unrest of the times, they welcomed the birth of their first daughter, Lisa.
In 1970, traveling across the country in their VW bus was an exciting time for Pete and Carol. They made Ithaca, New York, their home while Pete attended Cornell University for graduate studies, receiving his Ph.D. in Counseling and Social and Developmental Psychology.
They returned home to the sunny skies of California and welcomed their second daughter, Malinda, in 1973. Pete held a position at Camarillo State Hospital in one of the first established children’s autism programs.
With much excitement, the family fulfilled a dream of his and Carol’s and, in 1978, moved to the Central Coast, where he accepted a position at San Luis Obispo County Mental Health. After further studies and training in neuropsychology, Pete opened a private practice in Atascadero, California, as a counseling neuropsychologist providing assessment and treatment for people with disabling cognitive and neurological conditions. His practice reached many individuals in San Luis Obispo County and beyond. He was known as the neuropsychologist who “could always find the right answer” to provide his clients with compassionate care and an improved quality of life.
Pete was a member of several professional organizations. He was especially proud of being on a team with colleagues who established Central Coast Neurobehavior Center in Morro Bay, Atascadero, and San Luis Obispo, which ultimately became Options, Inc. The organization has helped countless neurologically impaired adolescents and young adults transition to more independent everyday living situations.
Pete is survived by his loving wife of 56 years, Carol, his daughters Lisa (Marc Tamo) and Malinda Johnson (Chad), and four grandsons, Hunter, Ethan, Roman, and Joaquin. He is also survived by two sisters, Pam Miller (Ohio) and Becky Singh (Tennessee), and cousins Denise Senter and Michelle Chilson-Farney. He was preceded in death by his mother, Suzanne, and father, Robert.
To his family and friends, Pete was a “cool” and relaxed kind of guy who loved life, barbecues, bird watching, and a glass of fine wine. He enjoyed all types of music but was really an old rock and roller at heart. He could often be seen in a Hawaiian shirt playing air guitar to Jimi Hendrix or Eric Clapton. Being Papa to his grandsons was a great delight in his life, teaching them to watch the birds and surf the waves of life.
Pete, we love you. We will miss you. You will always be in our hearts.
Arrangements are being handled by Chapel of the Roses in Atascadero. In honor of Pete’s life, donations can be made to Surfing for Hope, ECHO Atascadero, or a charity of your choice.
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.chapeloftherosesatascadero.com for the Russell family.