Following in father's footsteps
CPA continued his dad's business and tradition of serving the community outside work.
Don Russ at his furniture workshop in his home garage in Burbank. Russ is working on a pantry cabinet and has made many items for his home including outdoor cabinetry and cabinets for his bathroom and kitchen. (Raul Roa)
Russ said he continues to build furniture for his Burbank home in his own working garage — which he helped build — located in his backyard. He said it's a hobby that has always seemed natural for him.
“I was a lot like my dad,” he said. “The way I grew up, if you could build it, you did. I love building things.”
Russ said the first piece of furniture he ever built was a pump lamp in his seventh-grade woodshop class at Toll Junior High School in Glendale. Since that time, he hasn't stopped. Throughout the years, Russ has built dining room chairs, tables, pantries, lamps and even houses and workshops, among other items.
“A contractor built the basic structure for my two-story garage,” he said. “I did all the finish work on it. We rebuilt the garage. That's the shop I use.”
Working under the tutelage of his father, Russ said he was taught never to sell his work, because it should be something he does for enjoyment. To this day, Russ said he has built furniture for others, but not once has he ever sold an item.
Outside of his hobby as a woodworker, Russ also followed his father's career path. After earning his master's degree at UCLA in 1963, he immediately joined his father's business, Russ & Allcroft, a CPA firm, on Brand Boulevard in Glendale. Now running the business, he still comes into the office to oversee daily activities.
“My dad was a CPA, and kids at that age looked at what their parents did,” Russ said. “Although my dad passed away in 1987, there's a big satisfaction in knowing that I kept up his business, and now it's doing as well as ever. I love it here.”
Outside of his work as a CPA, Russ has given back his community for many years — just like his dad. He is active with the Glendale JCs, the Glendale Rotary Noon Club, the Glendale Healthy Kids and the Glendale Salvation Army.
“After all these years, Don not only still wants to volunteer, he still has enthusiasm for it,” said Mary Boger, a friend and fellow volunteer. “It's a reflection of him being a product of Glendale and his father's son. He grew up with a tradition in the city of public service, and he's living proof that it's alive and well.”
Although Russ remains active in volunteerism and works every week, he still finds time for his longtime hobby in his garage because he said there is always work to be done around the house.
“My house will never be done — Oh God, no,” he said. “At my age, there's not a chance I'll ever finish. It's a tiny house, but there are so many projects. I intend to work at it full time until I can't anymore.”