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John Russavage, Chairman and Co-founder of
Redwood Parks Lodge Company, Dies at 55
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Former stock broker, real estate investor and passionate supporter of the Redwood National and State Parks leaves behind his wife, Mary, three children and four grandchildren, as well as a company that will continue to bring greater visibility and popularity to the northern California region "where the redwoods meet the ocean"

 
ORICK, Calif. - Jan. 31, 2008 - John ("Johnny Redwood") Russavage, the 55-year-old chairman, president, CEO and co-founder of Redwood Parks Lodge Company, died unexpectedly Friday afternoon at his home in Trinidad, California of unknown causes.
 
Russavage was born in 1952 in Los Angeles, California to Albert John and Lila Rose Russavage (the eldest of five children), and he was raised in southern California. He received an associate's degree from San Diego State College in California (now San Diego State University), and pursued a career in a variety of financial endeavors, including stints as a real estate investor and as an accredited stock broker, including five years with Merrill Lynch in Palm Springs, California. Russavage was also an accomplished amateur guitarist, songwriter and composer, and was the lead singer in Johnny Redwood and the Rockin' Rangers, a band he formed in 2003.
 
Russavage's transformation into Johnny Redwood, his well-known and well-worn nickname and persona, began in 2001 after he and his wife, Mary, honeymooned at a bed-and-breakfast inn in the coastal town of Trinidad (approximately 20 miles north of Eureka and 22 miles south of the entrance into Redwood National and State Parks). 
 
During their vacation, the couple was amazed at the beauty and majesty of this region of the world where the redwoods meet the ocean, so much so that they asked a real estate broker to find a second home for them in the area. That second home soon became their permanent residence and Russavage began looking for local business opportunities.
 
In the end, Russavage and his wife co-founded Redwood Parks Lodge Company in 2002, attracted private investors and acquired approximately 68 acres of commercially zoned land adjacent to or near the Redwood Parks system and bordered by Highway 101 in Orick. 
 
In 2007, Russavage led the company to complete the first phase of its development as it totally refurbished six existing sawmill employee houses into luxurious, 1,200-square foot vacation cabins at Redwood Adventures Village surrounded by Redwood National Park. Each cabin features three bedrooms, 1.5 baths, a full kitchen, a living room, an attached garage and more and these cabins provide the best lodging option within Redwood National and State Parks. Under his direction, the company also secured permission to conduct guided tours, hikes and excursions throughout Redwood Parks and Humboldt County, as well as hold special events/festival services within the parks system.
 
Johnny Redwood also served as one of the hosts on Redwood Adventures TV, a new 30- and 60-minute series launched earlier this month by the company and broadcast in the region on CBS KVIQ (Channel 6) and Access Humboldt (Channel 12). During episodes of the news magazine show, Russavage and the other hosts interviewed various experts in the history, habitat and activities surrounding the Redwood National and State Parks; the first episode highlighted Trillium Falls, the tallest tree in the world and the park's indigenous birds.
 
In addition, Russavage directed the company's efforts to begin reaching out to celebrities this past year in an effort to help raise the visibility of the company and popularize Redwood National and State Parks, with Russavage hosting film and TV star Robert Conrad (of "Wild, Wild West" fame) at the September 2007 dedication ceremony of the Elk Meadow Cabins at Redwood Adventures Village. Under Russavage's direction, the company also began its efforts to build an 80-room resort hotel in Orick, as well as a world-class resort lodge on its northern-most property, a lodge that would (when completed) match the scope and majesty of the lodges in Yellowstone and Yosemite National Parks.
 
"John's passion for the outdoors, love of Redwood National and State Parks and the northern California coastal region, as well as his tireless work ethic were an inspiration to all of us," said Tony Smithers, executive director of the Humboldt County Convention and Visitors Bureau. "For example, within a very short time, he helped transform what had been abandonded sawmill-worker houses into luxurious rental cabins within Redwood Adventures Village and surrounded by Redwood National Park. He also assembled a diverse and experienced team of experts to help deliver on his vision for Redwood Parks Lodge Company." 
 
"Johnny Redwood was a massive bear of a man, with a heart of gold who was driven to see his dream realized of what was possible for his company and for the area," said Donna Hufford, senior vice president and CFO of Redwood Parks Lodge Company and past president/CFO of the Orick Chamber of Commerce. "Even though his unexpected passing has brought sadness to us all, we will move forward with renewed dedication and vigor with the goal of achieving the objectives John set for the region and to help build the next great national park lodge."
 
In addition to his wife Mary, Johnny "Redwood" Russavage is survived by three children and four grandchildren. 
 
Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, January 31, at Paul's Chapel in Arcata.
 
The company asks that the media respect the privacy of the Russavage family during its time of grief. Media inquiries, if any, should be directed to company spokesman, David Politis (contact info shown below).
 
For information about the company, please visit www.RedwoodParksLodge.com or www.RedwoodAdventures.com, or call 866-733-9637.

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Contact:

Redwood Parks Lodge Company
David Politis
SOAR Communications
801-523-3730
poppa.p@soarcomm.com
 

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