Russ was born in Castlemaine, but spent his early life in Bright when his father (William) was transferred there to become the Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of the Bright Plantations.He subsequently passed the VSF entry exam in 1942 and obtained his Diploma of Forestry Creswick in 1944.
After one-and-a-half years on Timber Assessment in the Neerim South Forest District, on Lake Mountain near Marysville and the Upper Yarra Dam Site, he was transferred to South Gippsland to supervise pine and hardwood planting at Childers.
In 1949 he transferred to Stanley Plantation in north east Victoria as OIC, and in 1955 to Beech Forest as OIC of the Aire Valley Plantation. In 1958 he was transferred to Gellibrand Forest District as District Forester when a reorganization of the FCV saw the amalgamation of adjacent District and Plantation administrations.
In 1962 Russ transferred to Trentham District. and from there received promotion to Assistant Divisional Forester at Horsham in the Western Division. After several years at Horsham, he was transferred to Ballarat in the South West Division, and from there received promotion to Fire Protection Officer at Head Office in Melbourne.
In 1971, he became the Divisional Forester, North East Division based in Wangaratta. He retired in 1984 when the Department of Conservation, Forests & Lands was formed.