Caroline “Carlee” Elizabeth Russell, age 33, formerly of Florida and recently of Waseca, passed away on Friday, March 12, 2021 at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester.
Carlee was born in Winter Park, Florida on October 5, 1987 to Nancy Chaffin Russell and John “Bo” Russell. She underwent the first of 3 open-heart surgeries when she was only 10 days old. Despite her physical challenges, she grew to be happy, optimistic, and strong. Her determination, her sweet spirit and thoughtfulness, her humor, and especially her bravery touched so many people in so many positive ways.
Anyone who knew Carlee will remember her constant companions - innumerable colored markers, reams of paper, and glitter…the girl left a trail of glitter everywhere she went! She absolutely LOVED to draw, and she was good at it. At age 10, instead of focusing on herself during an extended hospital stay, she purchased gifts for other pediatric patients and drew over 300 pictures for a goodwill exchange program with children in Russian orphanages. In the year 2000, in celebration of the positive difference Carlee made through her efforts, Disney recognized her with a Millennium Dreamers award. In addition, the connection she made with Russia initiated a set of miraculous circumstances that led to the adoption of her three younger siblings from a children’s home near Ekaterinburg.
Carlee adored jewelry, music, animals, and people of all types. She had an uncanny ability to connect with folks, even her favorite celebrities, among them the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, Amanda Bynes, and the entire cast of High School Musical. Running into celebrities was fun, but it was time spent with her friends - concerts, restaurants, movies, theme parks, the beach, or just hangin’ - that she cherished. And she had the most fun and unconditionally loving friends anyone could wish for.
Carlee counted her siblings among her best friends. Her older brother Danny, his wife Johanna, and their baby Clara; her brother Alex and his fiancé Sandra; her sisters Anastasia and Tatiana meant the world to her. She also treasured her parents, her dad’s wife Angela, her aunts, uncles, cousins, and her grandparents Bob and Lois Chaffin of Waseca and Sam and Betty Russell formerly of Wilmington, Delaware. Sam and Betty, along with Carlee’s aunt Candy, her cousin John, and her dog Jazzy, were undoubtedly there to great her when she made her journey Home.
In remembrance of Carlee, in appreciation for the folks in Waseca who were always so kind to her, and in honor of the many first responders who cared for her in times of need, Carlee’s family invites any who are interested to donate to Matson Strong – a fundraiser for recovering Waseca Police officer Arik Matson, who was shot in the line of duty. Please make checks payable to “Arik Matson Family.” Address: VFW Matson Strong, 113 West Elm Ave, Waseca, MN 56093