Industry mourns Russo's passing

Posted March 25, 2010, at 2:11 p.m. CST

The U.S. DOE Biomass Program's Larry Russo Jr. suffered a massive heart attack on March 20, passing away at age 54.

Russo had extensive background and knowledge of the ethanol and biomass industries, and worked with both the corn-to-ethanol and cellulosic ethanol processes. "He was an integral part of our integrated biorefinery team for the biomass program. He was a valued friend and colleague," said Valri Lightner, DOE team leader, in a brief notice informing friends and associates.

Born in Somerville, NJ, Russo was raised in Peapack-Gladstone, N.J. He received his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Dayton and his master's degree from Indiana University. He moved to Waldorf, Md., five years ago and was a chemical engineer for the DOE in Washington D.C., during that time. He was involved in biomass conversion and bioenergy for nearly 30 years. He had several patents, awards and publications regarding ethanol research and biofuels.

"Larry was truly good person and a consummate professional," said Joe Bryan, CEO of BBI International. "His industry knowledge was surpassed only by his willingness to share it. The bioenergy industry was extremely fortunate to have Larry on its side for so many years. In countless ways, Larry helped us serve, promote and grow the industry, most recently by serving on the 2009 International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo program steering committee. Larry will be missed, but he leaves behind a lasting legacy in the bioenergy industry he helped build."

Larry was also a past member of the Peapack-Gladstone Fire Department and an avid motorcyclist.

Survivors include his parents Lawrence J., Sr. and Dorothea Masler Russo; two brothers Eugene and his wife Debby of Califon and Joseph and his wife Jill of Great Meadows; two sisters Lee Ann Russo of Peapack and Linda Kiss and her husband, Paul, of Pennington, NJ. He is also survived by 14 nieces and nephews and four parakeets and Maggie the Macaw.

Bailey Funeral Home, Peapack, N.J., is handling the funeral arrangements. Services will be held 10:30 a.m., March 27 at St. Brigid Church in Peapack, N.J. In lieu of flowers, donations to the American Diabetes Association, P.O. Box 444, Mount Morris, IL, 61054, in his memory, would be appreciated. Condolences can be left on the funeral home's Web site at