Russell F. “Bud” Geisser
Date of Passing:
I must go down to the sea again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.
from “Sea Fever” by John Masefield
Russell Frederick “Bud” Geisser, PE (ret.), died with his loving family by his side on June 2, 2018, at RI hospital. Mr. Geisser lived on Cul de Sac Way in Riverside until recently, when he moved to Tockwotton on the Waterfront in East Providence.
He was born to George J. Geisser, Sr., and Madelyn (Grady) Geisser on November 11, 1923, in East Providence, and was predeceased by his beloved wife Barbara Ann (Hockman) Geisser in 2013. They were married for 64 years. He was a loving father to his son, Michael Fredrick Geisser and his wife Anna VanNort Lewis of Warren, RI; his daughter, Patricia Jane Dicks and her deceased husband, David, of Naples, FL; and his daughter, Susan Barbara Geisser and her husband David Hopcroft of Glocester, RI. Bud is also survived by five grandchildren: Lauren (Geisser) Blatt, Nicole (Geisser) Hallett, Ariel (Lusignan) Taylor, Ian Lusignan and Beth (Dicks) Gilson, along with six great-grandchildren: Brinley, Greyson, Madeline, Elise, Ethan and Wyatt. He leaves an older brother George J. Geisser, Jr., of East Providence, RI; a sister Madelyn of Hillsborough, NJ; and was predeceased by his younger brother, Rev. Raymond E. Geisser, OSA, of Villanova University in Pennsylvania.
Bud graduated from East Providence High School in the Class of 1940. When his parents went to see him graduate, Bud was not there—he had hopped an oil barge to Uruguay the day before. This was the manifestation of a life spiced with what his mother called “wanderlust.” When Bud returned from his South American adventure, he volunteered to fight in WWII, serving in the US Army in Europe as a light machine gunner in the 16th Armored Infantry Battalion.
After Bud returned from the war with an Honorable Discharge, he met Barbara Hockman at a dance at East Providence High School They were married on June 18, 1949. Soon after, they left on their honeymoon aboard the steamship S.S. Newfoundland, which carried them and their Royal Enfield motorcycle to Liverpool. For the next six months, they retraced Bud’s military travels in Europe during World War II: Liverpool to the Rhine and back. After returning from his honeymoon, Bud went after his bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering at URI. When he graduated in 1953, his son, Michael, aged 3, was in his arms.
Bud’s engineering career began in 1950 by being named a partner, with his brother George, Jr., of George J. Geisser and Associates, Inc., a company started by their father for his engineer sons. In later years, Bud was the sole owner of Russell F. Geisser and Associates, Inc., and several subsidiary companies that were involved in brokerage of used laboratory equipment, environmental investigations, structural investigations, and product testing for manufacturers. He ended his career under the corporate banner of Russell F. Geisser, PE, FASCE, conducting private consulting work.
In 1990, Bud was selected as the Engineer of the Year by the Rhode Island Society of Professional Engineers, an organization that he once presided over. At the time of this award, Bud was a registered engineer in four states, and a registered land surveyor in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and had been president of the New England Section of the American Concrete Institute, and president of the American Council of Independent Laboratories. Along the way, he found time to earn his MBA from URI. At his graduation, he, again, hoisted his now fifteen-year-old son in his arms.
Bud and Barbara always loved adventure, and satisfied their wanderlust by traveling throughout the USA, Europe, South America, the Middle East (one of the family’s favorite photos is of Bud and Barbara riding camels at the base of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt), Australia (for the 1987 America’s Cup races in Perth) and New Zealand.
Always seeking new challenges, Bud earned an IFR (Instrument Flight Rule) certificate at age sixty-five flying his single engine Cessna aircraft. Bud was also a life-long avid sailor, and kept his sailboats at Cove Haven Marina in Riverside for over fifty years, his last being a Bristol 35-foot sloop, the Barbara Ann. One of his final adventures was frostbiting (winter racing) in a small sloop during the winters of 2015 and 2016 in Upper Narragansett Bay. Bud also sailed aboard contenders in the Newport to Bermuda races, and participated in many Twenty Hundred Club races out of Newport. For all his time on the water, Bud kept one secret from everyone—he couldn’t swim!
In 2005, at the age of 82, Bud and Barbara struck out on a trip around the United States in a 32-foot motor home. After visiting friends and family in Florida, Bud and Barbara headed west, stopping at Fort Bliss in El Paso, where Bud was stationed during WWII, and then heading to California. One of their highlights was traversing the back mountain roads around Sedona in Arizona.
Bud was a lifelong communicant at Saint Brendan Church in Riverside, where he would bring his brother, an Augustinian priest, to services when he was in town. After he retired from the active practice of engineering, Bud built a small dinghy or sailboat in his garage each winter, which he would give to a deserving, local boy or girl in the spring. This was indicative of Bud’s generosity, which colored every day of his life.
In spite of the ubiquitous pressures of modern media, Bud never watched television, and could truthfully say that the only show he ever watched was the funeral of JFK. He was a voracious reader and inveterate story teller, and will be remembered by all who knew him as a charming man with a twinkle in his eyes and an engaging spirit.
His Funeral will be held on Friday June 8, 2018 from the W. RAYMOND WATSON FUNERAL HOME, 350 Willett Avenue, Riverside at 8:45 a.m. with a Mass of Christian Burial in St. Brendan Church, 60 Turner Avenue, Riverside at 10:00 a.m. Burial will follow in Gate of Heaven Cemetery.
Visiting hours will be held on Wednesday, June 6, 2018 between the hours of 5 PM and 7 PM. In lieu of flowers, Bud would appreciate donations in his name to Wounded Warrior Project (www.woundedwarriorproject.org) and/or Dare to Dream Ranch (www.daretodreamranch.org) in Foster, Rhode Island.