June 1, 1953 – December 26, 2023
at the age of 70 years:
Peacefully, the morning of December 26 2023, our brother, uncle, cousin, co-worker and friend, William Craig Russenholt, passed away at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops B.C.
Craig was born in Swan River, Manitoba on June 1, 1953 to Clarence and Winnifred Russenholt. His early years were spent growing up on a farm in the RM of Minitonas, Manitoba. This is where, as most farm kids do, he learnt the value of hard work.
Growing up Craig was always striving to be better. Whether raising a top 4-H calf in his club or excelling at almost every sport he played.
Hockey eventually became his thing. Usually playing up an age group, he played a few games as a 14 year old with the local Minitonas Hornets senior team. After attending hockey school in Flin Flon, Manitoba and having a good training camp with the “Bombers”, Craig left home at 16 and made the Dauphin Kings junior team for the 69-70 season. Craig played parts of 3 seasons and then returned home to finish his grade 12 and once again play hockey for the local Hornets hockey team.
Craig’s working life began while on a summer school break helping a neighboring farmer as a farm hand and helping to build the neighbor’s new house. The contractor building the house must have appreciated Craig’s work ethic as he soon hired him for the next two summers as a farm hand and carpenters’ helper. Craig still helped out on the family farm but liked the idea of being paid for his efforts.
The mid 70’s saw Craig get his first taste of big projects as he secured work with BACM construction working at the Manitoba Hydro dam projects at both Jenpeg and Ominawin Channel. He started working as a laborer and spent time on a dredge before ending up in the warehouse and his future was sealed.
Craig moved to Winnipeg working for BACM at their facilities as a warehouseman and purchasing agent. At this time, he also took up refereeing hockey and became a well-respected referee in Winnipeg and the surrounding rural areas.
While working for BACM an established construction manager noticed Craig’s talents as a purchaser and decided to mentor him and use him on future projects. This led to a longtime friendship and the start of Craig taking on more responsibility on various construction projects throughout Canada and the world.
The projects were numerous. The Dempster Highway in the Yukon; the Inland Cement Plant in Edmonton; the Dixon Damn near Innisfail, Alberta; a stint with Alberta Energy Company in Calgary; the Obed Coal Project in Hinton AB; a couple years as an entrepreneur as owner of a tank truck company in Zama, AB; a gold mine in Guyana, South America; the Kumtor gold mine in Kyrgyzstan; the Diamond mine projects in the NWT; the Albian Sands Jackpine Plant Site in the Oilsands of Ft. MacMurray AB; and lastly as project manager of an expansion of a Potash Mine near Rocanville, Saskatchewan. Along the way he also had an interesting project, to oversee the building of a helicopter pad for a visit of then US Secretary of State Colin Powell to Jordan in 2003.
With each job came added responsibilities and Craig was a sought-after Procurement Manager who worked his way up to Project Management.
Upon retirement, Craig took a year spending time in Hawaii and enjoying his boat in Blind Bay, BC. Where he made his home for over 30 years.
However, Craig couldn’t sit still. He noticed a local restaurant, marina, and resort that was in some disrepair was put on the market. After recruiting a small group of former co-workers as investors the purchase was made. Craig renamed the venture “FINZ” and set about renovations to improve the property. It was his next project. FINZ became the go to place in Blind Bay and continues that today under new ownership since the fall of 2022.
In December of 2017 Craig underwent surgery for an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Unfortunately, post-surgery Craig suffered a stroke which resulted in almost his complete loss of sight and mobility problems. He did his best to stay involved with the operation of Finz to keep himself occupied. Fortunately, his partners in the business stepped up in a big way to keep things operational.
Craig’s last 6 years had been a struggle with the last five months of his life spent in hospital.
Craig is survived by his brother Kirk of Minitonas, Manitoba; brother Neil, wife Carla and nephew Shaun of St, Albert AB; and his sister Cheryl Shannon of Ashern, Manitoba. Nephews Justin and Michael Shannon of Moosehorn, Manitoba, and Riley Shannon of Winnipeg, Manitoba. He’ll also be missed by nephew David (April) Neubuhr of Winkler, Manitoba; Mathew (Danielle) and family of Flin Flon, Manitoba; and niece Melanie (Ron) Hiebert and family of Flin Flon, Manitoba.
Craig was predeceased by his mother and father; Clarence and Winnifred Russenholt; his sister Kay Lynne Neubuhr and her husband Al; his younger brother Cameron; and his brother-in-law Richard Shannon.
Craig also leaves behind a vast number of friends and former co-workers. Three who went above and beyond the last few years. John Tymstra who kept FINZ up and running on a daily basis and Susan Baumgartner and Ron Dent who ran errands for Craig and drove him to his appointments and outings for lunch. You were his angels.
Cremation has taken place and a celebration of life will take place later this summer.
Should friends so desire a memorial donation in Craig’s honour could be made to the following:
Community Foundation of Swan Valley, P.O. Box 1509, Swan River, Manitoba, R0L 1Z0 or South Shuswap First Responders, Box 555, Sorrento, BC, V0E 2W0.