Russell Wayne Newcomb was born March 12, 1935 in Pocatello, Idaho to Wayne and Marjorie “Peg” Newcomb. He was raised on a ranch near Declo with two younger brothers, Bruce and Mark. He attended grade school in Declo and Burley and graduated from Rupert High School in 1953. He graduated from Oregon State College and went on to medical school, graduating from the University of Oregon Medical School in 1962. He interned and did 2 years of surgical residency at Marion County General Hospital in Indianapolis and completed his surgical residency at the University of Iowa. During his third year of Residency, he was drafted into the army. The Vietnam war was on and they needed surgeons. Russ went from 4F because of his disability due to a birth injury to combat qualified because of his surgical ability. He went to Fort Sam Huston in San Antonio, Texas for training and then to Fort Riley, Kansas and became a Captain working at the Irwin Army Hospital.
Russ and Carol Dunn were high school sweethearts and were married in 1957 in the Rupert First Christian Church where they had met as children. While in Indianapolis they adopted two children, Becky and David. About the time Russ got orders to go to Vietnam Carol found she was pregnant. Laurie was born while Russ was stationed at the 3rd field hospital in Saigon, Vietnam. Russ came home to a most thankful family and to a baby girl that he had not yet seen.
Russ had done an externship one summer with Dr. Warner and admired him greatly. Dr. Warner was the only surgeon at the Twin Falls Clinic and they were looking for another surgeon, so Russ was hired and the family moved to Twin Falls in 1969. The next year Bruce was born and Russ’s prayer for a family of four children was answered. Russ practiced general surgery at the Twin Falls Clinic for 26 years. He truly cared for his patients. He often said when being called out at an unusual hour, “I’m going out to save lives.” Judging from the many thanks and cards of appreciation that he received, he did indeed save lives. He was awarded a Fellowship in the American College of Surgeons in 1975. He was chief of surgery at the Twin Falls Clinic for 16 years, on the board of Directors of the Idaho Medical Association for 12 years and President of the Idaho Medical Association in 1983.
Russ’s family has always been interested in politics and the family was especially interested in water rights, so Russ decided to join his brother, Bruce, and sister in-law, Celia, in the Idaho legislature. He ran for office and was elected to the Idaho State House of Representatives in 1986. He prepared an Aids bill that was passed and also introduced a Spousal Impoverishment bill which was passed as well. He was a delegate to the National Republican Convention in New Orleans in 1988 and was also a member of the National platform committee. Russ was elected to the Idaho State Senate in 1990 and completed one term. He retired from the clinic in 1995 and in the same year was appointed to the Idaho State Parole board where he served for 8-1/2 years. He served as a lobbyist for the Idaho Medical Association for a number of years and also served on the Board of Directors and was chairman of the board for St. Luke’s Magic Valley Regional Medical Center. He was very involved with the planning and dedication of our new St. Luke’s Hospital.
Russ and Carol have enjoyed many special vacations including cruises of the Mediterranean Greek islands, the eastern Caribbean, Alaska, and the Mexican Rivera. They also have gone to Tahiti and New Zealand and visited an exchange student in Australia who they had hosted at their home. They have visited Israel and Jordan and spent vacations in Hawaii and Mexico. Family vacations have included the Oregon coast, Disney World and Sun River. They also have spent many happy family times at their cabin in Ketchum—skiing in the winter and fishing in the summer. The cabin has also been the site for numerous Christmas celebrations through the years. Several years ago, Russ and his brothers started going salmon fishing at the Yakutat Lodge in Yakutat, Alaska and over the years it has become an annual event. Family and friends have been invited and the fishing group has grown each year.
Russell was preceded in death by his parents and brother Bruce’s twin who died at birth. He is survived by his brothers, Bruce (Celia) and Mark (Lonna), his wife of 65 years, Carol, and children, Becky Elam (Steve), David Newcomb, Dr. Laurie Martin (Eric) and Dr. Bruce E. Newcomb (Julie). He also has 6 grandchildren and one great grandchild.
Russ has led a life of faithful service to God and country, to his family, to his state and to his community. He has led a life well lived.
The family is especially grateful to the staff of Visions Hospice for their outstanding, excellent and caring service. Charitable gifts in remembrance may be given to the Twin Falls Church of the Nazarene or Visions Hospice. A Memorial Service under the direction of Rosenau Funeral Home will be held December 9, 2022 at 11:00 AM at the Twin Falls Church of the Nazarene.