ROSLYN, Wash. – Russell Victor Brodine a musician, union organizer, and longtime member of the Communist Party USA died here Feb. 12. He was 90.

Born September 23, 1912, in Spokane, he moved with his family to Seattle in 1924. In the 1930s, he attended Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. He married Virginia Warner in 1941, the beginning of a dedicated personal and political partnership that lasted until her death in May, 2000.

As a bass player, Russell worked in the Seattle, Los Angeles, Portland, Salt Lake City, and St. Louis Symphony Orchestras. He was a lifetime member of the American Federation of Musicians and was one of the founders of the International Conference of Symphony and Orchestra Musicians (ICSOM).

During World War II, he worked as a welder in the shipyards in Los Angeles. He also worked briefly as a carpenter. He was an expert woodworker – repairing musical instruments, carving wooden utensils, building furniture, and creating small wood sculptures.

Russell and Virginia “retired” to Washington State, settling in Roslyn in 1978. There, they influenced many people through their involvement in important local and statewide elections, struggles, and organizations, including the effort to protect the Roslyn watershed, the Upper Kittitas County Involvement Alliance, RIDGE, AARP, and the Central Washington Peace and Environmental Council.

In 2001, he published his memoirs, Fiddle & Fight, the story of his life making music and making trouble (International Publishers). The book is a primer on union strategy and tactics, illuminated by Russell’s storytelling. A lifelong member of the Communist Party, he used humor to illuminate the process of building unity, engaging in struggle, and creating organization.

Since 1951, all living arrangements (except for the first three years in Roslyn) were in duplexes shared with their dear friends, Walter and Essie Johnson, until their deaths in 1990 and 1999, respectively.

Russell’s last political action was to march in the Roslyn/Cle Elum Peace March on January 18, 2003, against the impending war in Iraq, in keeping with his activism against wars in Korea, Vietnam, the Middle East, and elsewhere.

He is survived by his sister Cecilia Corr of Seattle, his daughter Cynthia Snow of Brookline, Massachusetts, his son Marc and daughter-in-law Janine Shinkoskey Brodine of Seattle, and granddaughters Rosario, Vonetta, and Francesca Mangaoang-Brodine and Jennifer Hughes, and by many loving friends, especially Cordy Cooke and Peg Bryant.

A memorial was held in Roslyn on February 16, attended by 80 people from Roslyn, Cle Elum, and Seattle. A memorial is planned for Seattle.


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