Russ was born in New York City on February 25, 1955, and grew up on a farm in Newtown, Pennsylvania and West Port Island, Maine. He graduated from the George School and earned a degree in English from Beloit College, Wisconsin in 1978. During Law School, he clerked for the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office. Russ graduated from the University of South Carolina Law School in 1982 and immediately joined the Marine Corps at the age of 27. In the Marine Corps Officer Candidates School, Quantico, Virginia, his platoon started with 52 officer candidates and graduated 26, with Keep being number 13. Upon earning his Lieutenant’s bars, Russ attended the Basic School at Quantico where his ROTC College graduate peers addressed him as pappy or dad because of Keep’s advanced age.
He left the Marine Corps as a Captain in 1986 and since then has practiced law on Hilton Head Island where he has served as President of the Hilton Head Bar Association for the last 3 years, growing the organization from 18 members to over 150. Russ is a South Carolina Supreme Court certified mentor to young lawyers and he is also an Assigned Member and Investigator for the SC Bar Resolution of Fee Dispute Board.