"My grandmother taught me there was always enough time to be kind." -- Russell Pry
Akron -- Nearly 1,500 people gathered at the John S. Knight Center Saturday to celebrate the life of Summit County Executive Russell "Russ" Pry, who died July 31 at the age of 58.
From Congressman Tim Ryan, whose 13th District includes parts of Summit County, they heard how Mr. Pry loved to brag about what was going on Summit County.
Congresswoman Marsha Fudge said with Mr. Pry's knowledge of history, he was the best Washington, D.C. tour guide there was.
But it was the personal stories from political leaders and friends that explained why so many people would spend a summer morning reminiscing about a man who is best known by the public as the leader of county government for the past nine years.
Former Akron mayor Don Plusquellic began his remarks by wishing he could be somewhere else, or that he could pick up the phone and call his "longtime best friend." At times fighting back tears, he vowed to set aside his grief, if just for awhile.
"I want to do today what Russ would want," he said.
He talked about Mr. Pry's many smiles, a common theme for the morning. There was the formal smile, like the one on the poster above the podium. Plusquellic described Pry's joyful smile when talking about those he loved, and a smile that was more of an "unforgettable smirk" that Plusquellic knew well and hoped to bring to Mr. Pry's face, as he imagined his friend watching the gathering from heaven.
Silver Lake Mayor Bernie Hovey told Village Council Monday night that he attended the service for Mr. Pry.
“It was just remarkable,” said Hovey. “Whether you’re Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green Party, Tea Party, I don’t care. That man worked very hard for the citizens of Summit County and he will be very missed.”
See the Aug. 21 edition of the Cuyahoga Falls News-Press for the complete story.