Russ Filbeck has been many things: submariner, woodworker, teacher, and philanthropist. In this interview, Russ shares his story, from how he started woodworking to his work helping President Carter raise money for his foundation, The Carter Center.
Russ Filbeck lives in San Diego, Calif.. At 17, he joined the United States Navy. He retired from the Navy’s Submarine Service in 1985. He then attended San Diego State University and graduated with bachelor and master’s degrees in Industrial Studies in 1989. He also has a furniture repair and refinishing business that he created in 1986.
After teaching his two-slat, three-slat, four-slat armchair and six-slat rocking chair designs for nine years at Palomar College, he decided to write a book on the subject. In writing the book, Russ interviewed chairmakers Brian Boggs, Roy Underhill, and President Jimmy Carter. Russ hit it off with President Carter, and they have since collaborated many times to raise money for The Carter Foundation.
Along with The Carter Foundation, Russ is active with The Good Samaritan Boys Ranch near Springfield, Mo., teaching Shaker box making and chair making to the 85 boys at the ranch. These boys, ranging in age from 11 to 17, are in trouble and have serious behavior problems. Russ believes that teaching them how to make useful things for themselves and others will enable them to change the course of their lives. When he was 14, Russ was the ninth boy to be brought to the Good Samaritan Boys Ranch when it was founded in 1959.