Brian Russell Stonewell


Computer Analyst and Nature Lover

1941 to 2021

If Brian had been born into the plant kingdom, he would have been a tree. In fact, as a boy whenever
anyone would ask,“Where’s Brian,” his mother would say, “Look at the top of the tallest tree.” Brian’s
strong bond with trees continued into adulthood. In the early seventies, he and his wife Carolyn built
and lived part-time in a two-story tree house along the Genesee River in Western New York State on the
farm of James and Virginia Russell, his parents.

From his beginnings in Buffalo, New York, Brian’s innate childlike innocence, kindness, and curiosity
never left him. He is descended from Tolkien’s Ents while embodying the tripping-the-light-fantastic
spirit of Tom Bombadil. Brian had his own style. For example, most of his adult life he designed and
wore a series of leather pouches on his hip, long before men did such things.

He loved solving puzzles of all kinds, which led him— even while pursuing his B.A. in math from the
University of Buffalo—into scientific programming. In 1964, Brian worked as a computer consultant on
the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) component of NASA’s first manned moon mission. Next for IBM, he
devised a way to store more data on a smaller chip. In the late sixties, he moved to St. Mark’s Place in
New York’s East Village and rode his unicycle to Rockefeller Center each day where he worked as a lead
programmer on NBC’s election forecasting system. Moving to Cambridge, Massachusetts, he joined a
team of programmers refining the Loran-C navigation system; and he started a few monthly computer
users’ groups—first for FoxPro in his home and later for C# that met at Microsoft.

When he was 64, Brian entered graduate school. In 2011, he received an M.A. in the teaching of
mathematics from Harvard University, graduating second in his class. He wrote his thesis on three new
functions he devised and termed “Extralogarithmics.” Afterwards, he tutored privately, taught
mathematics at local colleges, and helped staff Harvard’s math question center.

Sadly, Parkinson’s and Lewy Body dementia cut short his math teaching career, and after a long decline,
he died peacefully on July 31, 2021 in his home on Arlington Street in Cambridge, surrounded by his wife
and friends.

Besides his wife Carolyn of 52 years, Brian leaves behind his brother James Russell of Newport News,
Virginia; brothers Robert and Gary Russell of New York City; sisters-in-law Sandie and Claire Russell;
sister-in-law Patricia Lunetta; nephews James and Stephen Russell; nieces Kim Quinn and Heather
Russell; grandnieces Tiffany Brant, Kim and Virginia Quinn, and Sophia Sanat; as well as his beloved dog
Rosie, and many, many loving friends and relatives.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in memory of Brian to The American Parkinson’s Disease
Association or to The Nature Conservancy. A memorial service is planned for later this year or next year.

 

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5 Condolences

  1. Janine Mellini on August 7, 2021 at 4:05 pm

    Dear Lynn,
    Paul, Erin and I are so very sorry fro your loss! We only met Brian a few times over these may years but recall him with fondness. Please take care of yourself and know we extend our deepest condolences.
    With love and sympathy.



  2. Lois Mellini on August 8, 2021 at 3:33 pm

    Dear Lyn, Giorgio and I were so very very sorry to hear about Brian’s passing away. I shall always treasure the memory of the
    weekend when as a little girl I came to visit you in N.Y. and you
    introduced me to your Brian, a giant, a gentle wonderful man.
    And the time you came to Bedonia and he carried you up the stairs to visit us at our home.. Lyn I shall always keep those memories close to me, our hearts are with you.. Love
    Lois, Giorgio, Jennifer and Giorgio Jr.



  3. Trudy Bauer on August 8, 2021 at 5:24 pm

    Dear Carolyn and Rosie,
    My deepest condolences with the loss of Brian.
    I remember when Rosie became part of your family and how happy Brian and you were with her.
    And I have fond memories of Thanksgiving at Melody and Vince’s; that’s where Jim and I first met you and Brian.
    Brian was a great and creative cook. He used to bring wonderful dishes to our monthly DAMP
    potluck group.
    And he loved to play St. Nicholas.
    I also remember spirited discussions about various subjects over the years.
    Brian was indeed a kind and gentle man.
    May sweet memories bring comfort and healing to you during this difficult time.
    Sending you Peace and Love.
    Trudy



  4. Enrica Serpagli on August 9, 2021 at 9:18 am

    Dear Lyn,
    I just got the news from Lois Mellini of your husband Brian’s death.
    I offer you my deepest condolences, even from my family.

    With love,
    Your cousin Enrica Serpagli



  5. Ronald Mellini on August 9, 2021 at 4:21 pm

    Dear Lyn,
    David, Robert, Gene, Darrin and Ronald send our condolences to you at this difficult time, you are in our thoughts and prayers. Think of him every day, this will keep his memory alive and warm your heart with love and peace.



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