Russell George Illig | Passages

October 15, 1927 – December 11, 2021

As a life-long professional photographer, Russ could be found traveling the Northwest with his camera in hand to get the perfect shot of landscapes, flora, wildlife, and island life. For anyone who knew Russ, he was always ready for a tennis game, hike or a sail. He truly found his home among his friends and neighbors on San Juan Island.

Born in Juneau, Wisconsin, Russell George Illig was the second child of Anna and George Illig. He grew up in Juneau, WI. As a teenager, he developed a love of Big Band music and took up the trombone in high school. He kept that love for the Big Bands his entire life. Russ joined the Navy after high school and worked in the Office of Naval Intelligence in Washington, D.C. Following his Naval service, he attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, WI studying aeronautical engineering until he discovered his passion for photography. In 1948, Russ and his new wife Mona, headed West with an Airstream trailer to attend Brooks School of Photography in Santa Barbara, CA. Upon graduation, he made his way to Palo Alto, CA to start Russell Illig Photography. Over the years he kept heading north, first to Tualatin, Oregon, and finally to his most much-loved home on Eagle Cove, San Juan Island.

His wife of 66 years, Mona Illig pre-deceased Russ in 2014. He is survived by his five children, David Illig (Stephanie Illig), Linda Illig (Glenn Dahl), Joan Venticinque (Robert Venticinque), Michael Illig (Jan Mothershed) and Stephen Illig. Russ was the grandfather to seven children and great-grandfather to 10 children.

The family would like to thank the staff of Hospice of the Northwest for their support, with special thanks to his good friends, Jim Dunn, Kathy Ballard, Kit Moorhouse and the community of Eagle Cove. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to your favorite charity in Russ’s name.