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PASSAGES Russell Pryga
2017-10-11

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Russell "Russ" Pryga, 52, died Sept. 30 in Chicago; he was 52.

He was born June 10, 1965, and grew up in Mosinee, Wisconsin, the son of John Jr. and Barbara ( Hollingsworth ) Pryga.

Volunteering and giving were a huge part of Russ's life. He spent many hours volunteering at "GroceryLand," a food pantry for those with HIV/AIDS, and other charitable organizations to ensure he helped make a difference to those in need.

He was a Green Bay Packers fan, loved his dogs, loved to travel and snowboard, and was an avid player in the Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association volleyball league. Everyone who came in contact with Russ experienced his generosity, kindness and compassion. He had the ability to make other people smile even when he was sad. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends.

In a statement to Windy City Times, Open Hand/Chicago founder Lori Cannon said, "Eight years ago Russ signed up to volunteer and serve low income men, women, and children, living with HIV/AIDS ... and he never looked back.

"This man had a unique and profound sensitivity for those who struggled. His calm demeanor and sweet smile was a staple around Groceryland every Thursday night.

"Russ was old-school when it came to making a commitment and following thru with client service. We all were aware of his health struggles and wished him well when he asked for a leave of absence.

He leaves a wonderful legacy and will surely be missed around here. Thank you, Russ."

Survivors besides his parents, John Jr. and Barbara, include his daughter, Kelly ( Josh ) Pryga-Ahrens, Hamel, Minnesota; and a sister, Debbie ( Kurt ) Strohmeier, Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Memorial services were held Oct. 7 at Beste Funeral Home, in Mosinee. Online condolences can be made at www.bestefh.com .

In lieu of flowers, donations to the Heartland Health Outreach's North Side grocery center, Groceryland, would be appreciated. The address is 5543 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL 60640.


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