BATH — Russell Dwight Ferris, mentor, teacher, coach, and friend to so many, died on Wednesday, May 24, with his family by his side. He suffered a very short battle with adenocarcinoma, living just five weeks after his diagnosis.

A proud and devoted son of the City of Bath, Russ was born on January 22, 1946, to Leslie (“Skinny”) and Mildred Shea Ferris. The youngest of four children, Russ grew up on Richardson Street and developed a love for the outdoors during summer days playing in the woods at the Hyde estate, fishing, and catching frogs. Russ also spent many happy summers as a lifeguard at his beloved Reid State Park. He graduated from Morse High School in 1964, and from the University of Maine in 1970. From 1978 until his retirement in 2008, he made his career at Bath Iron Works.

While he made his living at the shipyard, he made his life in the YMCA community, for which he was a loyal and passionate supporter. Russ’s first formal employment with the Bath Y was in 1964, but his connection with the old building on Summer Street began long before then — his first paid job was sweeping the billiards room as a teenager. From that point onward he was a constant presence in the gyms, racquetball courts, summer camps, and pools at YMCA facilities across the state of Maine, but particularly in Augusta and Bath.

Through his work, coaching, membership, and volunteerism at the YMCA, and through his coaching in youth sports over a great number of years, Russ made a positive and lasting impact on several generations of children and adults alike. He encouraged — and received from those he mentored — great joy in the spirit of competition, the satisfaction in giving one’s best effort, and the pride in trying something new. He was a wonderful role model for hundreds of swimmers on the Augusta YMCA, Longreach, and Morse High School swim teams, in the Bath Little League and Senior Babe Ruth programs, and in more recent years the Splash-n-Dash adult class that he taught until just two weeks before his passing. His athletes and students benefited so much from his presence, but it cannot be overstated how much he received in return. He always thrived in the places where he could be of the most help to others.

Love, care, compassion, and hospitality were never in short supply with Russ Ferris. Strangers quickly became friends, and friends quickly became family. Over the years a great number of people found comfort in his home for stays both long and short. He was without fail the first to offer his help and support to those who needed it. He was an excellent friend, and a beloved uncle to his countless nieces and nephews.

Russ was, above all else, fiercely devoted to his family — and to the love of his life, Marlene. They were most amazing life partners, one rarely found without the other. When it came to Marlene, and their sons, Seth and Peter, their happiness and well-being was Russ’s top priority every day of his life. He was always present for them, always supportive, always finding a new way to show how much he loved them. Together, Russ and Marlene were among the greatest sports fans of all time. They somehow found a way to attend every home and road contest in which Seth or Peter participated throughout their youth, diligently keeping track of players and box scores winter, spring, and fall; they were among the most steadfast Shipbuilder fans that Bath has ever seen. Russ was insanely proud of and committed to his two sons, but perhaps even moreso when it came to his three grandchildren. Colby, Shea, and Gabriel were profoundly affected by his steady care, wisdom, and love as he and Marlene became a part of their daily lives and well-known fixtures in the Freeport athletic community.

Russ is survived by his wife of 42 years, Marlene LaPointe Wagner Ferris; by his son Seth Ferris and wife Amy Romano Ferris of Sabattus; by his son Peter Wagner and wife Elena Bell Wagner of Freeport; by his grandsons Colby, Shea, and Gabriel Wagner of Freeport; by his sister Ida Ferris Freeman of Worcester, Mass.; and by an adoring crowd of nieces and nephews and their offspring. He was predeceased by his parents, and by his brother Bernard Ferris and his sister Norma Ferris Duval.

A memorial celebration of Russ’s life will be held at the Bath Area Family YMCA from 4:00-7:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 10. The family would be most thankful for any and all whose lives were touched by Russ Ferris to attend and share thoughts and stories about him.

Memorial gifts may be made by giving to the Russ Ferris YMCA Scholarship, which will assist local children in improving their lives through activities at the Bath YMCA. Contributions may be mailed to the Russ Ferris YMCA Scholarship, Bath Area Family YMCA, 303 Centre Street, Bath, ME 04530.