Winifred E. (Johnston) Russe

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

Obit RusseWinifred E. (Johnston) Russe passed away due to heart failure on July 8th. Born October 25th, 1914 in Detroit she was raised in Texarkana, TX with her five siblings. She moved to Seattle after WWII to escape the heat. She married William H. Russe in 1946 and had four children over the next five years. They moved to Woodinville in 1956 and immediately got dogs, cats, chickens, rabbits, cows and horses. Adjusting to a 10 party telephone line, a well that only worked when there was power, and power being quite sporadic, she still thrived.

In 1957 her husband won the Tack Shack in a poker game. It was a very small western wear and horse equipment store in a rented room in Bothell. They divorced soon after and Win began growing the business to support her family. Due to her hard work and the help of all her children she was able to buy some land and build a larger store a few years later.

Following the Boeing layoffs in the 70’s she started Hay, Inc. and rescued hundreds of abandoned and starving horses. Through donations and with many volunteers she fed and paid for veterinary care. She found homes for these desperate animals through friendships she had made in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.

Eventually, even after several additions she decided she needed more room. In 1979 she bought land in Woodinville with plans to design and build a bigger store in a  few years, (with a parking lot where you could actually turn a horse trailer around). When a serial arsonist destroyed her Bothell store in 1980, she rushed to build a new Tack Shack. It became the largest of its kind north of Cali-fornia and west of Denver.

For 30 years she was known for dedication to provide her customers with boots that fit, clothing to fit the job, and the right horse equipment for whatever that horse required. She was known for her ability to hand-block hats to fit every size and shape of head and made them look good.

Upon her retirement she moved to a senior housing park, where she made many more friends and became the  manager. She was a strong, independent, brilliant woman who will be missed by many.

She is survived by her four children;  Mary Ellen,  Richard (Mary Beth), David and Nancy (Bob), two grandsons and one great grandson. Mary Ellen and Nancy still live in Woodinville, while Richard and David live near Spokane.

A date and location for her memorial will be posted at once arrangements have been made.

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