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Farewell Russell Johnson

July 13, 2009

We were saddened to learn of the death of Russell Johnson at Lilydale on Monday 6th July.

Russell and his partner Geoff Page were the founders of the Lilydale Athenaeum Theatre Company whose first production was in March 1976. Since then and until his retirement from the theatre board in 2005 Russell was an integral part of the success of the ATC. His contribution to the community has been recognised in a number of awards from the Shire of Yarra Ranges and his contribution to amateur theatre has been acknowledged by a number of awards by his peers.

Russell loved a party and until his retirement was a fixture, greeting patrons in the theatre foyer as they arrived for each show and remaining to socialise afterwards. He was involved in all aspects of each production from selling tickets to wardrobe, set dressing, directing and even on occasions acting. He was generous in sharing his knowledge and experience with others and this will be missed.

Russell has been laid to rest in the old Lilydale cemetery not far from the grave of Dame Nellie Melba. This is significant because Russell had a passion for Melba and her association with the Athenaeum and he devoted much of his life to amassing a collection of memorabilia which is now housed at the Museum of Lilydale.

The board members of the Athenaeum Theatre Company extend their sympathy to Russell's extended family. Russell will not be forgotten and his legacy will live at the place he loved so much - The Lilydale Athenaeum Theatre.

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