Penny Russman

July 22, 1940 - Dec. 28, 2023

Leaf - Earth Leaf - Earth Leaf - Earth Leaf - Earth

Penny Anne Russman July 22, 1940 - December 28, 2023 Warm, compassionate, and empathic. Feisty, full-of-life, and resilient. These are the words loved ones use to describe Penny Anne Russman, who died peacefully at home on December 28, 2023. When she was born on July 22, 1940, to Clara and Louis Weintraub, the doctor told them, “This is your lucky Penny.” Penny grew up in a tight-knit community in Brookline, Massachusetts. Her best friend Nancy lived five houses away, and they walked to school together every day from kindergarten until they graduated high school. Nancy and their friends Beth, Roz and Ruth adored Penny for her smile, her laugh, and her vivacious and mischievous personality. Penny was a loyal and devoted friend to them and others her whole life. Penny fell in love with Barry Russman at Camp Tevya, where he was a counselor and she a camper. After two years at the University of Maine, she and Barry wed, and Penny transferred and graduated from Tufts University. After brief stops in Rochester, New York; Mountain Home, Idaho; and Philadelphia, the couple settled in Glastonbury, Connecticut. Penny valued family above all and was the emotional heart of the household, raising three children, Sondra, Craig, and Eric. Friends and family gathered often around her beautiful table which was adorned with delicious salads and other tasty dishes, especially during Passover, Hannukah and Rosh Hashana. Though busy with her career and many interests, Penny was always available and engaged, listening intently and with genuine concern, and providing space for people she loved to make mistakes, nurture their ideas, and flourish. Penny’s daily actions showed her children and grandchildren the importance of caring and connection, equality and having a voice, creativity and kindness. Penny also modeled for them curiosity and the idea that you can always change and grow. In her career, she reinvented herself several times over. After earning a degree in education and a stint as a teacher, she studied human sexuality and became a counselor and later director of Planned Parenthood of Connecticut. She co-authored the book Changing Bodies, Changing Goals and then obtained a master’s in library science and rose to become the head of the science library at Wesleyan University. Even after declaring that she wasn’t going to work a day more in her life, when she and Barry moved cross-country to Portland, she studied Spanish, taught English as a Second Language in a diversion program, and served on the board of the Portland Literacy Council. In her work and in her family, Penny paved a path for people to find both balance and meaning in their lives. Delighting in all the world had to offer, Penny was a voracious reader, an avid movie-goer and an enthusiastic swimmer, ice-skater, and hiker. She loved turtles, cats, and dogs; travel, gin rummy and Mahjong; ice-cream, birthday cake for breakfast, and vanilla cream cookies all day long. But her true passion was gardening. Her gorgeous ever-blooming front yard at the Sunset Drive house in Glastonbury was a wonder for all who passed by. She often gifted plants to friends and family and became a Master Gardener with Oregon State University, volunteering to share her love and knowledge of plants with others. Penny will always be remembered for her warm presence, quick smile, generosity, and humility. Ultimately, those who knew Penny felt seen, valued, capable, and motivated to be their best. We are forever grateful. Penny was preceded in death by her mother Clara Weintraub, father Louis Weintraub, brother Harvey, and sister Susan. She is survived by her husband Barry; her three children and their spouses: Sondra and Mike Marshall, Craig and Liz Rusch, and Eric Russman and Jenny Russman-Araya; and her six grandchildren Reece and Jace Marshall, Cobi and Izzi Rusch, and Kyra and Svia Russman-Araya. Penny was cared for and had a special relationship with Jenny’s sister Edith Araya. The family would like to thank Edith and Legacy Hospice for their wonderful support during the last few months of Penny’s precious life. Donations in Penny’s memory can be made to the Portland Literacy Council at (or to your local literacy council) or to Planned Parenthood at


Leave the earth with beauty

Earth specializes in soil transformation, an environmentally-friendly alternative to burial and cremation. Over a 45-day process, we gently transform a body into nutrient-rich soil. We then send this soil to our local conservation land where it’s used for restoration projects such as reforestation and nourishing challenged ecosystems.

Learn more