Sadly, on September 24, 2009, we lost our dear friend Russ Agnes after a short fight with cancer. It happened during the 2009 NIBA convention held in Austin, TX, and it came as a shock to all of us. At age 43, Russ was so young, vibrant and full of energy. Russell Kirk Agnes was born on March 4, 1966 in Baltimore, MD to Joseph and Susan Agnes. Russ grew up in Arbutus, a suburb of his beloved Baltimore. He has one brother, Peter Agnes. Russ graduated Lansdowne High School in 1984. He married his sweet heart Shelly on July 17, 1993 – which as she puts it was the best day in his life! The couple became proud parents of their twins Brooke and TJ (Timothy James) on February 15, 1999. Russ was a huge NASCAR fan, and rooted for Number 24, Jeff Gordon. He also loved to fish, often with his co-workers and NIBA friends. Foremost, Russ enjoyed being a dad and spending time with his family. During his illustrious belting career, the many companies Russ worked for included Volta Belting Technology, Baltimore Belting, Lewis and Goetz in Rocky Mount, NC ,Mol Belting, Chiorino and he even had his own distributorship named Chesapeake Industrial Solutions Co. Russ last worked for REMA TIP TOP North America. We knew Russ as a great supporter of NIBA, a fabulous human being to spend time with, and a strong family man. Russ has given so much to our association, and I like many of us have witnessed first hand his strong work ethic, his technical belt know how, his talent to turn imagination into tangible products, his wittiness to entertain fellow NIBA members, and his strong integrity and character on which one could unconditionally rely upon.
Russ has served on many committees during his nearly 15 years of NIBA service. As a member of the Technical Committee in 1996 through 1998, he was key to get the Introductory Belt Guide completed, and he helped with the Modular Training Program. When I was serving on the Membership/ Marketing committee and was charged in 1997 by the Board of Directors to develop the first web site for NIBA, I immediately called upon Russ Agnes along with Rita Kae from Belting Industries to join me in an Ad-Hoc committee. Together, we published the initial nearly thirty page website within one year, and Russ was instrumental in achieving this feat. Truth be told, throughout my many years of chairmanship of various committees, Russ was consistently my Go-To man when I needed strong support, and he never ever failed me or NIBA. In 2002, he joined the newly formed stand alone Website Committee for three years. While serving on the Education Committee from 1999 through 2001, and again from 2005 through 2007, the last year of which he served as Chairman, Russ helped administer the Ray Snow Scholarship program as well as participated in organizing and teaching NIBA training seminars. I will never forget the great times we had when conducting these training programs. The combination of Russ’ humor, dedication and technical know-how was unique and is rarely seen in such perfect balance. Who can ever forget Russ in his purple outfit rap singing on stage at the 2007 Baltimore convention, when he mesmerized us with his great dancing moves and hilarious showman skills welcoming us to his beloved hometown?
In 2008, Russ became Chairman of the Product and Services Committee and spearheaded the launch of the P.A.S.S. Program that can potentially save membership companies and their employees considerable amounts of money. Russ served on the NIBA Board of Directors in 2004 and again in 2006 through 2009. Thanks to his strong support and invaluable contributions throughout the years, he had in my humble opinion the potential of some day rising to the top of NIBA. For that reason I invited him to participate in the 2007 Strategic Planning Committee meeting in Flat Rock, NC, where Russ’ valuable input helped shape NIBA’s future. It is with great sadness that only a couple of years later we had to yield to bigger forces for reasons we not always understand. His passing leaves a void, and NIBA will forever treasure the great memories and many contributions that Russ has made during his long time of service and support for the association.
Cie Motelet, Past NIBA Coordinator, writes:
Russ Agnes contributed to NIBA in so many ways. He served on committees, the Board of Directors, and most recently as Committee Chair. He was the compiler and editor of the “Introductory Guide to Belting”–NIBA’s most popular publication. I especially remember how Russ stepped up in 2005 to chair the convention silent auction and with a very short lead time (4 weeks), solicited and coordinated the donations, and ran a very successful auction with proceeds of more than $26,000 to Hurricane Katrina victims. As NIBA coordinator, I really appreciated Russ’s “can do” attitude. What he promised he delivered-and always in an upbeat way. NIBA is a better and stronger association because of his contributions.
Kerry Cummings, CVR, writes:
When asked if I would relate a personal story involving Russ Agnes, I thought it would be relatively easy. I went on a road trip, to the playground that is my mind, and determined, that although most of my little groups adventures with Russ were legal, they would probably not bear the scrutiny of polite society,…or impolite society,…hell, they could barely be retold in the Dry Tortugas. As for those times where we strayed a tad further off the reservation, well, suffice it to say that although the “long arms of the law“ may not reach out to where Russ is now, others in our group are more accessible, and who needs hassles with the ATF, bail bondsmen, extradition treaties and angry Mexican sheepherders. The truth is, most of the time I spent with Russ was at high velocity, working or playing and especially in a car. He reduced my life expectancy by a number of years in a pre-dawn, high speed romp through the bowels of the Chesapeake Bay waterfront, in search of a head boat that had changed marinas and neglected to tell Russ. We replaced one set of brakes, two sets of shocks and we’re still pulling laundry and lawn jockeys out of the grill of Jim Bishop’s BMW. There may be some outstanding warrants but I believe Jim still gets Christmas cards and thank-you notes from the local landscapers. Russ’s energy was contagious and his smile enormous. I especially enjoyed the evil twinkle he would get in his eye when plotting some outrage. He was, in fact, a giant mischievous leprechaun with a heart of gold and as my Irish ancestors would say, “Russell,we hardly knew ye.”