Monday, February 13, 2006

Russ Kyger - RIP

From The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., Saturday, November 19, 2005, p. B 7-- (Burial posted at

"KYGER, RUSSELL ARCHIE (Age 53) - Of McGaheysville, VA, died on Friday, November 18, 2005 at his home from cancer. Born November 27, 1951 in Harrisonburg, son of Beatrice Virginia Shifflett Kyger of McGaheysville and the late Joseph Reid Kyger. Mr. Kyger grew up in the Washington, DC and Maryland area. He helped Quantum Link (Q-Link) get started in 1984 which later turned into AOL. He worked for the Capital Center where he set up for games and concerts. Russell was a talented guitar player who wrote and composed his own music and pursued genealogy. On November 21, 1980, he married Mary Marie Dove Kyger, who survives. Also surviving are a daughter, Michelle Elvanda Virginia Kyger, at home, and one brother, Daniel Michael Kyger of New Carrollton, MD. Funeral services will be conducted 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon at the KYGER FUNERAL HOME in Elkton, VA. Burial will follow at Mt. Olivet Cemetery. The family will receive friends this evening (Saturday) from 6 to 8 p.m. at the funeral home."

His screen name was "RussKyger" and he will be lovingly remembered as the driving force behind the grandparent of AOL's Genealogy Forum - Q-Link's YOUR FAMILY TREE. This online site was for Commodore Computer Users. I signed on with a Commodore 64 machine, and soon he "hired" me on as a chat hostess and the rest is history. He was the Q-Link genealogy forum leader before Apple-Link was developed. Later Q-Link and A-Link merged into AOL. This was in the days before the internet was available to everyone with a computer.

Russ' vision of using technology to teach people how to do genealogical research has inspired most of us early online genealogists.

The first time I met Russ in person we agreed to meet at the Library of Congress (LOC) in the Local History & Genealogy Reading Room. He was a tall, very long-haired man; someone who at first glance you'd would think would be more at home on a Harley or playing his electric guitar. To my knowledge, Russ didn't have a Harley, but he sure could play a mean guitar. HE was a great musician. Yet this giant of a man patiently showed me the several card catalogs and the then newly developed in-house computerized catalog. He taught me how to order books from the back stacks at the LOC, and copied the pertinent pages for me using one of those new-fangled hand-held scanners with its own print-out capability.

Several times my daughter Carrie and I visited Russ and Mary in their apartment in PG County, Maryland. They kept all sorts of little critters such as gerbils and even a ferret. I know Russ missed the country, and that's why he kept them. I soon overcame my fears about ferrets.

He and his wife Mary came to dinner one time when another chatter "Romary" came to town. I cut his hair, he taught me MS-DOS and tons more. His love of family was clearly shown in the fall of 1989, when I flew up from Florida to attend his father's funeral in Rockingham County, Virginia. After the burial, he had us all trek up Skyline Drive, to a small family cemetery off one of the main bends in the road. Russ got choked up every time he spoke of ancestors.

When last we spoke (via email as usual) Russ knew the cancer had pretty much spread everywhere in his body. He knew his time was near. He wished us the best, and told me to keep on working to solve those family relationship mysteries.

Thank-you Russ. And may you now rest from your very valiant battle. I look forward to seeing you again, old buddy. By the way, can you please get Dolly Yockey to tell me who her parents are? I forgot to ask before you left.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

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