Best known as a Bangor-area news reporter, but also a lover of barbershop quartets, Russ Van Arsdale has passed away at the age of 71.

Russ held a lot of positions in his career, including stints as a news reporter at WABI radio and also at WLBZ-TV. But not everyone remembers that he also worked here, as our news director.

As a matter of fact, Russ sat at the same desk on which I'm typing this story. I can't remember the exact years involved in his time here (it was late '90s or early 2000s), but I sure remember working with Russ. He was always a lot of fun, taking our teasing in stride, and then giving as good as he got. I hadn't started my news career yet, but was the DJ on the other side of the mic, when he was finished giving his daily reports.

My favorite memory of Russ was from his birthday, when I interrupted my own comments by slowly raising the volume on siren sound effects, asking Russ if he heard them, and, boy, they sounded close. He was so convinced, he even stood up (all of this on-air, mind you) and commented that there were no firetrucks in the parking lot. That's when I told him the firemen were here to put out the candles on his birthday cake. I can still see him laughing, but shaking his finger at me, as if to say, "I'll get you back."

Q-106.5 archives
Q-106.5 archives

After his years in broadcasting, Russ went on to pursue other avenues, like media relations for Northeast CONTACT, and restoring historic film archives. We lost touch many years ago, other than the occasional passing in the grocery store aisles. His wife, Jane, would always continue shopping while Russ and I caught each other up on our lives and spent a few minutes talking about the latest topics in the news.

But one of Russ's true passions was barbershop singing. He was a member of the Mainely Music Chorus, showing off that his deep, resonate broadcast voice was equally impressive in song. In this video, Russ is conducting and singing.

His musical friends took to Facebook to say good-bye to their conductor.

WABI-TV reports Russ passed away while battling cancer. My sincerest condolences to Russ's wife, family, and friends. He was a special man, who will be missed. But the angels just got a wonderful addition to their heavenly chorus.

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