Russell D'Anna

Obituary of Russell D'Anna

Born in Kansas City,MO., and raised in Independence,MO., Russ D’Anna was a modern Renaissance man and creative spirit who died on January 17, 2018. Russ was renowned for his boundless energy and enthusiasm.  At age 19, after graduating from high school, he joined the US Army 10th Special Forces Airborne Group as a Green Beret; making nearly 40 jumps; primarily at night, with heavy equipment in tow. Russ received his BFA and MFA at the University of Kansas where he met his wife, Dorothy.  During their sophomore year the KU "enrollment computer” somehow placed the two of them in six of the same classes.  They ended up studying together and seeing each other everyday, so getting married seemed inevitable.  They were married in 1960.  Their creative energies melded with amazing synergy - together as a couple they helped make our world a more beautiful place.  Senior year they practically lived in the Jayhawk Magazine Yearbook office at the student Union.  Russ, as editor, spent much time there, and Dorothy worked thereon the quarterly covers and ads.   After graduation, they moved to the San Francisco Bay area where Russ was hired by a small publishing company.  Then Russ was asked to come back to KU to take over a teaching assistantship and begin work on his Masters.  During this time, Russ also assumed the creative responsibilities in the publishing wing of “People to People”.In 1964 Dorothy was hired by Gimbels New York to become their fashion art director, andRuss landed a job at Scholastic, Inc. to art direct a new classroom magazine, “Scope”,being edited by the son of the chairman of the board.  Over the years Russ worked his way up through the company, and he touched the lives of countless young readers during his career at Scholastic, one of the country’s largest publishing houses, where he served as Creative Director.Russ was a passionate man of arts and letters, an avid reader who devoted himself to lifelong learning, sharing his love for art in its myriad forms. As professor of graphic design at The School of Visual Arts in NY, he influenced students for over 30 years. (Many of his students were children of his former students).He was a man of many passions — Jazz (Basie, Kenton, Brubeck); Classical (Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert).  An avid cook, Russ honed his culinary skills alongside his Grandmother D’Anna in her Independence kitchen.  He inherited his green thumb from his father.  It was in the greenhouse and garden where he renewed his spirit.  Russ was especially proud of the spectacular begonia blossoms that he nurtured from tubers.  In 2014 he combined passions for gardening, photography and digital painting in his exhibition ”Flower Show” at the Vivilore Gallery in Independence.His passion and love for horses revolved around his small herd of Trakehners that he bred, rode and competed on over the years.And his kindness to all the animals was exemplified in his daily feeding of the chipmunks, birds, and squirrels just days before he passed away.Russ was the recipient of awards from the New York Art Directors Club, the Los Angeles Art Directors Club, the American Institute of Graphic Artists, the Society of Illustrators, the Golden Phoenix, and the Mead Library of Ideas, among many others.Russ is survived by Dorothy, his dear wife of 57 years.  Also surviving are  brothers Rob D’Anna (Debbie) and David D’Anna (Lorraine) all from Hawaii. Russ made us laugh with his boyish charm and good nature.  He contributed immeasurable beauty and joy to the world with a huge and generous heart, that will be greatly missed.