STANTON — The Montcalm County Sheriff’s Office is saying farewell to one of its finest.
Steve Russell worked his last day on the job Friday and then hung up his hat after 31 years.
Sgt. Brian Waber will be promoted to lieutenant to fill Russell’s position. Waber was hired as a deputy in May 1986 and was promoted to patrol sergeant in July 1996.
The fourth of five children, Russell lived in Grand Rapids and Lansing until his family moved to Stanton in 1969. Russell attended Central Montcalm High School, where he was the underclassman of current Sheriff Bill Barnwell. Russell lived on the south side of Crystal Lake during his high school years. He graduated from high school in 1974.
Russell joined up with the U.S. Marine Corps from January 1975 to January 1977. He was honorably discharged as a corporal. He then attended Montcalm Community College from 1977 to 1980 and the Mid-Michigan Police Academy at Lansing Community College in 1981.
He was hired as a patrol deputy at the Montcalm County Sheriff’s Office in March 1982, where Barnwell was one of his training officers.
“I chose law enforcement mostly because my older brother and sister were both deputy sheriffs and, as a matter of fact, all five of us kids work in or are retired from the criminal justice field,” Russell noted.
Barnwell said several of the positions assigned to Russell were given to him based on his “unique” ability as an instructor. Over the years Russell has served as an instructor for boat safety hunter safety and firearms safety — all as collateral jobs of his normal patrol duties. He also worked as a DARE officer.
“His ability to instruct, along with his personality, made him an ideal candidate for these assignments,” Barnwell said.
Russell continued his education while working as a sheriff’s deputy. He earned his bachelor degree in criminal justice from Michigan State University in 1992. He was assigned as a detective to the Central Michigan Enforcement Team from 1992 to 1995.
Russell was promoted from deputy to patrol sergeant in August 1996 and took over supervision of patrol shift deputies, plus the Marine Division. He also continued as chief firearm instructor for the sheriff’s department. He was promoted to patrol lieutenant in May 2010 after Karl Kluwe retired as longtime patrol lieutenant.
“Steve has been a very valuable employee as he has worked in a wide variety of assignments over his 31 years with the sheriff’s office,” Barnwell said.
After 31 years on the job, Russell said he is looking forward to spending retirement with his wife, Jan, who is a nurse practitioner at the Center for Women’s Healthcare in Carson City. The Russells have two children, Molly, who is in her final year of dental school, and Pete, who works in court security at the Montcalm County courthouse in Stanton.
“In all of his duties and assignments, Lt. Russell has done an excellent job,” Barnwell said. “His wide diversity made him invaluable and he certainly will be sorely missed. Personally, I will miss him very much not only as a lieutenant, but as a part of my overall management team at the Sheriff’s Office. We will all miss his keen sense of humor as well. I wish him all the best in his retirement.”