|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"
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
"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.