American Patriotic 10
Official Obituary of

Russell Ford

February 25, 2023

Russell Ford Obituary

Russell Lee Ford, 80, died from complications due to a stroke on February 25, 2023. Russell was born on October 6, 1942, in Los Angeles. His mother, Irene Gail Pittinger Ford, and father, Ernest Lee Ford, both preceded him in death. He is survived by a sister, Susan (Alan) Cruz, nephews Nathan and Brian Cruz and families; step-daughter Adella (Nathan Thompson) Carey and grandchildren Gabriel, Rafael, and Julian; and by his wife, Lori Jane Winslow Ford.

Russell grew up in Crestline, California, and graduated from Rim of the World High School in Lake Arrowhead in 1960. After a year of college, two years as an Army Medical Corpsman, including time in the Dominican Republic, and work at Lockheed Martin and owning and managing his own Beverly Hills pool cleaning business—“HippyDippyPoolMan”—he scouted one year, found Imnaha, filled his VW van with tools and possessions, and drove the next year to the end of the road. In the mid-70s he cowboyed, carpentered, and worked as a handyman in Imnaha country, longest and closest with the Borgerding Ranch.

In 1980 he bought the crumbling Vista Theater in Enterprise, scraped off the Vista sign to reveal the “OK Theatre,” and, over 20 years, cleaned up the theater, put in a new screen, extended the stage and added lighting, reset the seating, showed first-run movies; and hosted Missoula Children’s Theater, plays and music from Eastern Oregon University, and Chuck Ackley’s one-man portrayal of Clarence Darrow. And then, because the Elgin Opera House had been dormant and filled with city offices for years, Russell leased and remodeled it, and for some years moved movies from one theater to the other.

While still running theaters, he took glassblowing classes from Tom Dimond at Eastern, and soon had his own glass shop on Bowerman Road near Joseph. Landlady Sally Bowerman suggested he name his glass business after their Moonshine Irrigation Ditch, and he did. Russell sold the OK, moved to Wallowa, expanded Moonshine, worked for Bane Electric, volunteered for the Forest Service at Cache Creek, and served on the Fishtrap Board. For a couple of years, he drove the mail truck between La Grande and “the County.” In La Grande, Lori Winslow worked at the Post Office, and long-distance courting became a 2005 marriage; Lori too was in “the County.” And so was that old VW van and Russell’s toolkit. Russell and Lori had many a happy adventure in that van, with his mechanical expertise always being part of the adventure.

Russell loved movies, books, art, good wine, friends, the County, and his wife and family. There will be a celebration in his honor at Terminal Gravity on June 4, 2023 from 2-6 in Enterprise. Bring your Russell Ford handblown pint glass. Donations in his honor can be made to the Wallowa History Center.  Online condolences may be shared at

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