Memorial at noon Saturday for Russ Nordeen, 21-year Murietan
Russ Nordeen pursued an active retirement that began with building a home here 21 years ago. He belonged to the Country Club, where he served on committees and was a member of the Senior Men’s Club. He served as a director of the Rancho Murieta Association in the 1990s, and was a longtime member of the RMA Architectural Review Committee. Those closest to Mr. Nordeen say his main interest was his family, and his greatest joy came from spending time with them. He was surrounded by his family when he died Nov. 21 at the age of 85. The Nordeen family would like friends to join them at noon Saturday for a gathering in Mr. Nordeen’s memory at the Rancho Murieta Country Club.
Russ and Dorothy Nordeen first visited Rancho Murieta in 1987 when Mr. Nordeen retired from his construction business in Fullerton. Their youngest daughter had worked on a golf tournament here and told her parents it was the perfect place for them to retire, Dorothy Nordeen remembered. “We thought it was lovely, but there really wasn’t anything out here then,” especially compared to Southern California, where they’d lived for 25 years, she said.
Instead, the couple retired to a townhouse in San Ramon. Three years later, when they decided they needed a house, the Nordeens came back to Rancho Murieta to build the one they wanted.
Russ and Dorothy Nordeen met on a blind date and were married for 62 years.
Coincidentally, it was the same year Nordstrom department store opened at Arden Fair shopping center. “Russ said, ‘Well, now we can move to Rancho Murieta. They put a Nordstrom’s in Sacramento,” and it became a standing family joke, recalled Dorothy Nordeen. “We do love it here. Russ always loved it.”
Although their home in Murieta is the sixth or seventh home they built for themselves over the years, it was the first time Mr. Nordeen acted as their general contractor. “Russ is a builder and I just insisted he be the general contractor on our house,” Dorothy said. “He actually enjoyed it, I think. It was fun.” During the year-long project, the couple rented a house in the neighborhood.
The Nordeens were married for 62 years. They met on a blind date when they were students at the University of California, Berkeley.
Although Dorothy told the mutual friends who arranged the date that she wasn’t interested in going, the week before the dance, Russ called to ask what time he could pick her up. “They told him I would go and I didn’t have the heart to say no. So I went and the rest is history,” said Dorothy Nordeen. “He was a great guy. Just a great guy.”
Russell Gordon Nordeen was born in Fort Bragg on Jan. 11, 1926. He grew up exploring the redwood forests, swimming, fishing and camping by rivers, streams and the Pacific Ocean, and he developed a love of nature.
In high school, he lettered in football and basketball. He was named outstanding student of his class and elected president of the student body.
Upon graduation, Mr. Nordeen served in the U.S. Air Force during World War II. In 1949 he graduated from the U.C. Berkeley School of Business Administration along with his soon-to-be wife, Dorothy.
At Cal, he was a dedicated member of Theta Delta Chi fraternity, and enjoyed playing the intramural sports in which the fraternity excelled. Members of his fraternity and his college class still meet regularly in Sacramento, and these gatherings of old and dear friends brought great joy to Russ, his family said.
After graduation and marriage, Russ and Dorothy lived in the Bay Area for several years, and Mr. Nordeen worked in the construction business. Their three daughters were born in Berkeley.
In 1959, the family moved to Southern California, eventually settling in Fullerton, where Mr. Nordeen operated his own construction business for 25 years, specializing in concrete and reinforcing steel. Because of his extensive knowledge and experience, he was known in the industry as “Mr. Concrete.”
After retirement, Mr. Nordeen specialized in golf, fishing and family. He traveled to the Kenai Peninsula, the Yukon Territory and the Amazon in search of salmon, halibut, trout and peacock bass.
He loved music and singing, and participated in the Barbershop Quartet Society in Fullerton.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Nordeen is survived by daughters Christine Ritter, Kimberley Patterson, Stephanie Zech, son-in-law Bill Zech and seven grandchildren.