Remembering Rus Wilson: The Face of Clipper Pride

Remembering Rus Wilson: The Face of Clipper Pride

McCenzy Martenson, Paperclip Staff/Writer


Rus Wilson was an icon, not only at the high school he worked at, but in the city of Portsmouth as well. He touched so many individuals’ lives, young and old. Rus will be truly missed, and our community is sending all of our love to the Wilson family in these hard times. Below are some of Portsmouth’s favorite memories of and with Rus.


“Rus Wilson was my go-to staff member, a father figure, a lunch buddy, and a genuinely incredible man. He gave me my first media pass, which enabled me to refine and improve my video skills. One of my best memories I have is last Halloween. I was walking down the hall texting, and right as I turned the corner Rus jumped out and scared me senseless, forcing me to drop my phone and water bottle. This shows that even though he had a job, he made it fun for himself and those around him. Rest in power king.”

-Matt Falci, PHS Class of 2020

“I played field hockey from freshman to senior year and I would always run into Russ on the fields or in the halls!! He always had a big smile on his face and would immediately stop what he was doing and ask how I was doing and if we were ready to show some clipper pride! He was an awesome man.”

-Makayla Leathers, PHS class of 2015

“My favorite memory was when he would come to support all of the reserve volleyball games. He was so much fun!”

-Grace Fabiano, PHS class of 2023

“The most important thing to remember about Mr. Wilson as we called him growing up, is that he wasn’t just the guy at the desk at the Connie Bean, or just Julie and Scott’s Dad, or just a coach. He taught us all how to forget about all of the bad things in this world even if it was just for 10 seconds to laugh with him. I don’t know if you knew him, but he was a great man and would keep us entertained constantly. Best of luck, he’s too funny for words!”

-Kim Drew

“Rus was a great person to work for and with. He truly strives to offer the best for his community. My favorite memory is when I struggled to make the best decision, he would remind me that I worked in recreation and that meant having fun!!! Don’t do it if it isn’t providing fun!”

-Yvonne Cedergren

“This was an impromptu fun moment with Rus in all his glory celebrating President’s Day. I have a lot of fun memories and always got a kick out of all his celebrations to make everyone smile. I don’t know who had more Clipper Pride. He was always so proud of all the kids. The silence is deafening, we miss you Rus.  Thinking of & embracing your family.”

-Kat Anania


“Annual Father/Daughter Dance.  The picture on the left was taken in 1995.  In 2019, he texted me sad emojis throughout the dance and pictures of him dancing alone and missing me.  I knew I couldn’t let that happen again, so in 2020 (the picture on the right) I surprised him!  I’ll never forget his face when he saw me and said ‘What the heck are you doing here!?’  You are never too old to go to a Father/Daughter Dance with your Dad!”

-Julie Richard, Rus’ Daughter


“He was ‘plucked’ out of the crowd at the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue in Disney World, went backstage, and appeared minutes later taking over the show.  He never took himself too seriously and would do anything to make people smile.”

-Julie Richard, Rus’ Daughter


“Rus enthusiastically supported our students and athletes. He was full of clipper pride and was a bright light at PHS! He supported all my children especially one of my daughters with incredible support! She often ate lunch in his office and He is unforgettable and made her days as a Clipper better! Thank you Rus!!”

-Michelle Handley Locandro



“Rus was and always will be a family man, an advocate all for the kids of the community, classmate and a friend to many. Here’s a pic of Karen Conway, (Lady Liberty) Rus (Uncle Sam), and me (Ms. America) during PHS spirit week’s America Day 2013. So much fun, wonderful memories”

-Kat Anania

“I ate lunch in the athletic office every day in high school it became my safe space and Rus was always there to laugh and give me a water and quick snack when I needed him”

-Adi Scully, PHS Class of 2020



“Always would catch up with Rus after any football games we had when I saw him no matter the outcome he’d be smiling and welcoming to everyone he saw.”

-Joey Auger





“I have a special story about the kindness of Rus. I grew up in Portsmouth, graduated from PHS, and had two amazing children graduate as well. Both my kids were very active in sports and we would run into Rus all the time. Always smiling and asking my kids how they are doing. Many years ago when my children were small they attended Camp Fun Stuff thru the Portsmouth Rec Dept. Every year they would go and they loved it. One particular year I had fallen on very hard times, job loss, etc. I saw Russ one day and he asked me if I was going to sign the kids up. I told him that there was no way I could afford it. He said that the city could help through a scholarship program. I filled out the applications and received a letter the following week. They were going to help with part of it. I still could not afford the balance. I called Russ to thank him for trying to help. He called me two days later and told me not to worry about the balance and to make sure the kids were there on the first day. I could not believe it, I never asked him how, but I do know why. That is the kind of person Rus is. Always thinking of others. My love and prayers are with his family.”

-Lisa Barnes